Training 5m contours

by Henrijs Freimanis
MAGNĒTS, Latvia, 15.03.2023

The terrain in the region where our Magnēts orienteering club is located is quite flat with few distinctive contours. Orienteering maps are drawn with 2.5 m contour intervals. Optimal routes between controls are mostly straight as height differences have little or no impact to route choices.

Therefore, during school holidays our purpose is to visit areas where height differences are distinctive and contour intervals on orienteering maps are 5 metres.

This time it was the vicinity of Vilnius, Lithuania. Vilnius is the capital and the biggest city of Lithuania. In 2021 European Youth Orienteering Championships took place there. Our young orienteers of older groups were participating as well. To be noted, Vilnius itself and the surroundings are rich in plenty of interesting orienteering maps. 

The biggest challenge was to re-run long courses of EYOC 2021. As our participants were from age categories 8 to 14, we chose courses W16 and M16. To everybody’s enjoyment the tasks were completely fulfilled.  Course W16 – 4.9 km, 13 CP, M16 – 6.2 km, 15 CP.

Young sportsmen felt satisfied with the idea that the most experienced of them were trusted to set the courses in the terrain. Using pieces of red paper ribbons.  This required proper detailed visualization of the terrain compared to simply running the course.

Route choices control 2 -> control 3

The training tasks were previously analyzed, especially paying attention to 5 m contours (including the meaning of bold contour lines) in order to facilitate ability to read the map properly and  locate themselves in the terrain keeping on the right contour level. The tasks were carried out in small groups by 2 – 3 runners simultaneously. They chose different routes to the controls and after meeting at the controls discussed their choices, their advantages, successes or failures.

The routes were recorded in GPS watches to make proper analysis in the whole group meeting afterwards. 

The old city of Vilnius is a UNESCO heritage site. Being orienteers we did the sightseeing using sprint orienteering maps to gain more information and experience in city orienteering. At the controls photos were taken thus turning the sightseeing into a photo – orienteering event.

So one more step has been taken to improve the mastery of orienteering. The young sportsmen shared their their impressions as it traditionally happens after the training camps.

Eleonora (14 years): t was an interesting experience. I mostly enjoed the last session where we met at the controls after different route choices. After that we discussed what was best. The terrain was partly runnable, however “green” as well. Hills were physically demanding. 

Sofija (13 years): I really enjoed Vilnius camp. The forests were more complicated and different to those we usually train and compete in, but I liked it. In my opinion, the tasks vere very interesting, and I liked setting the controls most.

Henriete (12 years) : After this camp I understand 5 m contours much better than I used to. In the previous camp I had problems with 5 m contours, but not any more. I definitely enjoyed the intersting courses and I am looking forward to the next camp.

Katrīna (11 years): The courses were cool and more intersting than those at home. We do not have so distinct and well understandable terrains in Latvia. With a map of scale 1 : 10 000 everything seemed farther away and also there were extra paths. I had to decide which paths to use.

Madlēna (11 years): I learned how to do orienteering on a map with 5 m contours. In the autumn in Estonian camp I used to make mistakes, but now I was able to complete the course without big mistakes.

Madara (14 years) : I enjoyed this Vilnius camp. It was fun to set controls and to go into details of the terrain. Training sessions were really interesting. I will most vividly remember the big hills and doing route choices acroos them when deciding whether to move straight or around.

Lūcija (14 years): It was a great change from what we do on usual training sessions. Especially the large shapes. In the camp I improved my orienteering skills. I also got my legs tired and understood what a great responsibility is to set controls in the terrain.

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ORI-YOEU is an international project to improve orienteering practice for kids  and trainers network.
The project is co-funded by the European Union.