Why just run when you can orienteer?

The Saskatchewan Orienteering Association has opened registration for its four-week October program to help children and youth ages five to 15 get more comfortable with the sport.

The association launched earlier this year and has been organizing orienteering events and classes since the spring.

Association founder Malin Hansen spoke with the Brainsport Times about orienteering and why runners should give it a try.

Q: What is orienteering?

Malin Hansen: Orienteering is a sport as well as a recreational activity. The goal is to navigate between a series of checkpoints in an environment. In order to do that, you need to be able to read a map and orient it correctly so that you can match your surroundings with the map. Our programs and events help people learn to read maps as well as gain an appreciation for natural areas.

Q: What do you enjoy most about orienteering?

MH: When I do orienteering, I get to run and walk and hike outside. As part of orienteering, I have gotten to know areas of Saskatoon that I probably would never have explored otherwise.

It’s an activity or sport for all ages. It’s probably one of the broadest sports there is because you can participate as an infant you can be at the back of your parents in a backpack but you can also participate when you’re old because you go at your own pace. It is one of those perfect sports for everyone.

Because people can participate as a group, our programs and events are very family focused. In addition, orienteering is a very nice team building activity.

Q: Why should runners try orienteering?


Why run on trails without also engaging your brain?

In orienteering you have to know where you are on the map, you have to know where you’re going and how to get there. While you walk or run, you also have to use your brain the whole time. Participants in our programs and events will improve their physical ability, but also their spatial ability and problem-solving skills. For example, if you can’t run straight because there is an obstacle in the way, you will have to figure out the quickest way to get around it.

Q: Where are the best places to go orienteering in and around Saskatoon?

MH: We have made maps of several parks and natural areas in and around Saskatoon, such as Gabriel Dumont, Diefenbaker and Chief Whitecap Parks. We use these parks regularly for our programs and events. We constantly explore new areas for our events and make new maps.

To learn more about the Saskatchewan Orienteering Association — including how to get involved and sign up for its programs — visit its Facebook page

The October program runs over four weeks with sessions on Sunday afternoons, Sunday evenings, Monday nights and Tuesday nights at Gabriel Dumont, Diefenbaker, Chief Whitecap and Richard St. Barbe Baker parks.