Get lost – It is Fun!
I could have paid more attention to my clothing on the early evening of December 6th when I decided to take part in a city orienteering contest in Turku.. While I was there registering myself for the event dressed in a long dress coat suit and tie from the previous nights independence day celebrations, competitors in spandex were running all around me. Their shoes too were different: they made scratching noises while they ran. Later I found out they are Finnish made shoes with small metal cleats on them, just like the ones on the Nokia snow tires, the Hakkapelittas.
After the 12-month life-or-death adventure featured in my up and coming book, ‘Norded, The Ed Nord Story‘, I decided to see an another side of orienteering. While others celebrated Finland’s 100th independence day in at the President’s castle (yes, that is what it is called “Presidentinlinna” there in Finland), I decided to go to Turku, the oldest city in Finland. It was established in the late 13th century and today it is a living, breathing city with shopping centers, market place and a busy harbor.
None of those factors were really relevant to my choice of spending the independence day there. I had heard there was an orienteering happening in the middle of the city, which in itself was curious, since I was familiar with the forest, map and compass type of thing. Another thing that blew me away totally was the amount of people that showed up! I expected a low participants rate because it was the beginning of December. Instead the place was packed.
Well we didn’t really need a compass. We were given a city map and then we were told that are supposed to find all the landmarks that were marked by a number and a circle around them. There were questions on the back side of the map and the answer to each question could be found from the physical location of the landmark. It had been too easy if it was that simple. The time was also limited. You only had one hour to run and locate as many landmarks as possible. Also the higher the number on the landmark, the more points you would receive. We were all given an electronic card that keeps track when we starte and finish. The finish was a veterans memorial in the center of Turku.
It was not about treasure hunting really. It was an educational trip through the old part of the city, in fact very appropriate for Finnish Independence day. At the race, there was a shop selling all kinds of thing that are needed for this sport and it only then occurred to me that it really is sport.
The results from the race were later published here.
Amazingly, the Finns have developed an online program, where you can upload the GPS route map and see your path with animated steps. You can also add other people’s routes on your version and see how them compare to where you went.
Since I was a first timer, I wanted to get another point of view on this interesting event. That’s why I interviewed one of the competitors:
Q1: How did you Suomi 100 orienteering competition go?
A1: It went well actually, I found more than one half of flags, about 30 flags. I was surprised that I was this fast today. I went on the other side of the Aura river. Then I crossed back over the river and up steep steps to the observatory tower. Then to the field and track stadium where we took that selfie where the Turku ski jump used to be.
Q2: How many kilometers did you run in an hour?
A2: No way 7.3 km! I was running and I have these Finnish made shoes with spikes in them. The same ones that are in snow tires. These were a really good choice today for it was slippery and snowy today.