Orienteering attracts participants with diverse skill levels

A course will be held on New Year’s Day.

Orienteering participants, from beginners to those with a more advanced skill levels, will have an opportunity to be a part of a New Year’s Day orienteering event on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at Camp Timberhill in Butler County from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

According to Event Director Mike Minium, Orienteering Cincinnati, orienteering is an internationally-recognized sport, where orienteers use an accurate, detailed map and a compass to find points in the landscape. It can be enjoyed as a walk in the woods or as a competitive sport.

“You use a very detailed topographic map of the park to find a series of checkpoints,” said Mike Minium. “You can treat it either as a competition, a race, or as a recreational hike.”

The daytime event will feature a range of different courses, he said, for different ages and skill levels — from first-timers and beginners to those who have more advanced training.

A standard course generally consists of a start, a series of control sites that are marked by circles, connected by lines and numbered in the order they are to be visited, and a finish. Beginning participants will follow the parks trails roads and streams. More experienced participants will navigate off of the trails, using more intricate details of the map to find their way.

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“Orienteering presents both a mental and a physical challenge,” Minium said. “It’s a great way to get out of the house, enjoy nature and participate in a fitness activity. Additionally, you’re working your mind as you figure out the map. It’s like a puzzle, combining a treasure hunt with cross country, as fast as you want to do the course. Orienteers can either walk or run. We also encourage children to come out and participate in our youth league series.”

Orienteering Cincinnati was founded in 1984. The organization has maps of about 50 different parks in the area, including parks in Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Clinton, Clermont Counties and in northern Kentucky. On average, Orienteering Cincinnati facilitates about 30 events per year with about 50-to-60 participants, or more, per event. Events are done in rain, shine or snow. Children from a young age to adults in their 70’s regularly participate.

Minium said each course is different based on the course setter. Also, orienteers have the chance to see different parts of the park that the general public typically isn’t able to experience, because the maps are very detailed, and they cover the entire park.

“We get a larger attendance through the winter months,” Minium said. “With the summer months in this part of the country, the woods get thick, the foliage gets pretty dense and you get a lot of spiders and poison ivy. We get more participation through the fall, once the leaves start to drop and into the spring time, when the woods are more open and it’s not so humid.”

In setting the course, Minium said he will be available on site to instruct beginners, answer questions and ensure a positive first experience with the sport.

“We welcome all ages. You want to come prepared for a walk or run in the woods. It’s not a smooth sidewalk and you’re out in the weather conditions of the day, so be prepared to be out in the woods for an hour or so. I encourage first timer’s to try an easy level course and learn the skills,” Minium expressed.

“It’s a fun challenge, when you determine the best way to get from one point to the next. You resolve situations like ‘How can I do it most quickly, and do I have to go over a hill?’ or “Would it be faster to go around it?’ ‘Should I go through the woods, or take a longer, easier route on the trail?’ ” he said.

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