Craving outdoor time? Here’s a super fun way to challenge your brain and body while discovering new places!

With COVID-19 resulting in the cancellation of events and races left, right and centre, the orienteering community has found a way to keep people active in the outdoors!

If you’re looking for a super fun way to challenge your brain and body while discovering new places, keep reading!

Bayfront Park, Hamilton.

Orienteering is an activity for everyone – walkers, runners, kids, families, seniors, and uber-competitive high performance athletes. You don’t need any special skills!

Pre-COVID-19, people would meet at a specific location at a specific time, register, get a map, plan their route, chat with others, and then take part in a race, in urban areas, forests, and in secluded wilderness areas (on foot, bike, canoe, etc.). Clearly this isn’t possible during COVID-19 restrictions.

Instead, clubs like Don’t Get Lost and Orienteering Ottawa have switched gears, offering orienteering opportunities for people to do on their own schedule, solo or as a family, as long as you have a smartphone or a smart watch.

Racing along the Bruce Trail

If you live in proximity to Hamilton/Burlington, Oakville, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Niagara, London and Barrie, Don’t Get Lost has orienteering opportunities for you! (I can’t speak to the events run by Orienteering Ottawa, as I live too far away to have taken part.)

Pretty waterfall along the course.

Don’t Get Lost X-league

I have been participating in X-league races for a few years now, and am thankful that races are still possible COVID-19 style. The premise is simple.

  • You register online.
  • You print the map at home.
  • You download the MapRun F app.
  • You go to the map start/finish location on your own with your map (no compass required!).
  • You walk or run the course on a mix of city streets and parks and trails within the allotted time limit (usually 40-60 minutes), while the MapRun F app does it’s thing in the background. COVID-19 style, there’s no orange/white flag to find. Your phone will beep when you’ve “found” the control.
  • You instantly see your results.
  • You go home.
  • If you want, you can connect with others in a Facebook group.

You can’t even get lost, because you can look on the app to see where you are if you’re not sure. Another bonus – these races are very inexpensive! Some are FREE to try right now!

If you’re into all things data, you can look at the results of everyone who did the race. You can see:

  • route taken
  • time taken
  • distance run
  • points earned

You can even see everyone moving in “real time” – i.e. as if everyone started at the same time, their dots move and you can see who went where and how quickly. Below is a snapshot of the animation showing everyone moving at once. You can watch a snapshot of just your route, or of any combination of people.

You can even see if anyone ran off the map. Below, you’ll see someone went for a long swim (!) and someone else ran across the railroad tracks (!). Both very unlikely – probably GPS confusion!

To learn more, check out the X-league page for all the details!

These races are a great way to try orienteering for the very first time, or to keep working on your navigation skills.

In addition to X-league races, Don’t Get Lost is also holding a few other races this summer. You can check them out on their website.

Follow me on Facebook: Kyra on the Go: Adventures of a Paddling Triathlete

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3 thoughts on “Craving outdoor time? Here’s a super fun way to challenge your brain and body while discovering new places!

  1. This was the year I was going to train and do a sprint tri — but now I’m just walking and biking. May get one swim in at the lake if the weather is good the few days we are there. Good for this group for being inventive and to you for getting out and doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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