Route Choice

Orienteering is a competitive acitivity where you get to compete against others to find the controls as quickly as you can. What is interesting about the sport of orienteering, is that it is not necessarily the fastest runner who comes out on top, rather it is the orienteer who can figure out the best route choice to get to the control in the most efficient manner.

This mental challenge makes orienteering exciting and fun as there are always new navigation puzzles to solve.

When determining the best route choice you must understand the ways you can most efficiently travel across a variety of terrain. It also helps to play to your strengths. Maybe you are very accurate crossing rough terrain on an orienteering bearing, or you are more comfortable knowing exactly where you are and prefer to travel swiftly along using available trails.

Work with your skills to decide the best route choice for you. Sometimes choosing a somewhat longer route may actually be better than a shorter route requiring more precise and riskier navigation.



Some key questions you may consider when analyzing your choices of route are:

1 - How runnable is the terrain?
2 - Are there available handrails?
3 - Where are good attack points?
4 - Is there a good catching feature?
5 - Should you choose a safe or riskier navigation option?
6 - How can I avoid any unnecessary steep terrain or climb?

Choosing the Best Route

Lots of mental analysis goes into route choice. Look at the example on the right. You are going from Control 8 to Control 9. There are at least two route options. Can you spot them?

One choice would be to head straight south, crossing the trail and minor water channel and then heading up the re-entrant. Initially, the vegetation and water crossing could slow you down, but from there it is mostly open runnable forest if you hold your compass bearing. Another option, would be to take the trail on the east side. This handrail requires little or no navigation risk and can lead you almost straight to the control. However, it is the longer route.

The ultimate choice is up to you. Comparing routes with your fellow orienteers at the end of race is always the source of good discussion. Learning from your experiene and that of others can help you refine your strategy for tackling a variety of navigation puzzles.

Route Choice in Action

Here is a another great video produced by the South London Orienteers (SLOW) to see route choice in action.



Next Topic: Attack Points