DONTGETLOST ADVENTURE RUNNING NAVIGATION TIPS
Learn and practice our 7 IMPORTANT DONTGETLOST.CA NAVIGATION TIPS and you could save you and your team many minutes to hours in your next races. To train these tips sign up for a DontGetLost.ca Navigation Clinic or a Salomon Dontgetlost Adventure Running Series training race today.
NAVIGATION TIP #1: PRECISION MAP READING
PRECISION MAP READING SKILLS
"PRECISION TO WIN"
NAVIGATION TIP #2: NAVIGATION TO HILLSIDE CHECKPOINTS
It is late in the race - your team has only two checkpoints (CP) to go and the next to last CP is on the side of the Niagara Escarpment. You are racing head-to-head with another team, you are tired, a little dehydrated, head is spinning, legs are aching. “Should be simple navigation” you say, “Just over the edge and down a bit”.
Big mistake! Such was the scenario facing the 75 teams in the 2000 Enduro race in Collingwood, Ontario in 2000. This would be the CP that decided the race. Not the 2 hours of painful canoeing in large Georgian Bay waves, not the hike-a-bike biathlon section, not the hay bale dash or the climb on the bike up the steep slopes of the Blue Mountains – but it was the short and seemingly simple CP on the hillside. My team initially thought this was going to be easy as well, but after making an initial error, we re-grouped and used our international orienteering experience to “spike” the CP on our second attempt. To “spike” is orienteering slang to navigate to the CP perfectly. Here are some DONTGETLOST.CA tips on how to “spike” your next hillside CP.
“Attack from above”
“Use the compass”
NAVIGATION TIP #3: START SLOW....THEN RUN FAST!
Unless you are very familiar with the terrain or forest that you are racing in it is best to be calm and take the first CP slowly. This will permit you and your team to get a ‘feel’ for the terrain, the thickness of the woods, quality of the map, etc. After addressing this and “spiking” (navigating without error) the first CP, then you and your team can pick up the pace and proceed with confidence. While it is possible that others will have raced harder and spiked the CP faster than you, more often than not, orienteering races are won or lost on the first CP due to nerves and a lack of appreciation of the terrain. Oivind Thon, 2-time World Orienteering Champion in the early 1980’s had a secret for success – “Walk to CP1, jog to CP2, then run fast”
NAVIGATION TIP #4: CHOOSING A COMPASS
Perhaps the number one question we get asked at the SALOMON Adventure Running Series races or at our DONTGETLOST Navigation clinics is: What type of compass should I use?
Whether your outdoor interest is in adenture running, adventure racing, or orienteering the most important piece of equipment you buy is the compass.
A baseplate compass is the traditional compass, a wrist compass is attached to a wrist band and either sits on the wrist or over the back of the hand, while the thumb compass straps to the thumb. Depending on the terrain we reccomend using ither the baseplate or thumb compass or both. Competition level orienteering compasses are nice because they are fast settling compasses with a nice fat needle. None of these compasses have a declination adjustment on them so we just draw magnetic north lines on our map. This always gets a few strange looks when we do our navigation clinics but after the races the feedback is always positive. It also helps that we now quote Ian Adamson from a recent Trail Runner Magazine article where he also states "draw your own magnetic north lines". So with no worrying about declination why not go with compasses the top navigators in the World use? Use an orienteering compass!
So, our preferences for a compass purchase are:
Wrist: Brunton 66 Spectra
These orienteering compasses are generally a little more expensive than the more commonly used compasses.
NAVIGATION TIP #5: USING A COMPASS
Taking a compass bearing in 3 easy steps....
1) Place the compass on the map and align the base plate with the direction of the travel lines in the desired direction of travel. ( Basically you are using the long edge of the compass to make a line between where you are, and where you want to go.)
2) Turn the compass housing until the lines in the house align with the magnetic north lines on the map. Make sure that the north end of the housing lines correspond to the magnetic north meridian lines. (Do not align the housing lines to south)
3) Take the compass off the map and holding the compass at waist level directly in front of you , turn your body (not the map) until the compass needle aligns with the housing lines. Make sure that the red end of the needle lines up with the north end of the housing. Follow the direction of the travel arrow, straight ahead.
When sighting off of a bearing, keep your sightings short – about 10-20 meters.
NAVIGATION TIP #6: JUDGING DISTANCE
One of the most important skills in adenture running, adventure racing, and orienteering is distance judgement. How far have you gone in terrain that has few features or poor visibility? All top navigators use a process called PACE COUNTING. To measure your distance with PACE COUNTING, count every second step. For example, every time your right foot touches the ground (double pace). Count the number of double paces on a known distance of trail (or track). Normally a double pace for walking is 60 or 70 double paces for 100m. It is usually between 30 and 40 for 100m for jogging or running. Now try the same in rough terrain. You will take more steps when ground is soft or vegetation is thick. Use this pace counting continuously when you are racing or training. If you have travelled 250 paces and you have 50 paces per 100m then you can be sure you have travelled somewhere close to 500m. If you had to travel 700m to the CP then chances are you haven't gone far enough. NOTE: Absolutely do not use TIME as an indicator of distance.
NAVIGATION TIP #7: I'M LOST....NOW WHAT DO I DO?
You are adventure running through the woods and then it dawns on you that you don't know where you are. Some will call this being lost while others will call it "losing contact with the map". Whatever the terminology you or your team have made an error - WHAT DO YOU DO?
RECOVERY BY RELOCATION
1. When you feel you have lost contact with the map STOP.
2. Orient the map with the compass.
3. RELOCATE or attempt to establish your location by looking at the oriented map and the features in the terrain around you. For example, if there is a big hill in front of you and a stream on your right, where on the map does this exist?
4. If you can't RELOCATE right away, then reconstruct where you think you went since the last place you knew you were. If you are adventure racing involve ALL the team members with this. For example, ask everyone independently what the team did since the last known place. Did we run uphill, north, through a creek, how far, etc? All of this information will help you determine your position.
5. If you still can not figure out where you are then RETURN TO THE LAST PLACE OF KNOWN POSITION. This is a tough thing to do. It is very difficult to convince yourself to go backwards in a race. However, 95% of the time this is the quickest thing to do. If you or your team just runs around thinking they are "close to the CP" then this will just make you MORE LOST and make it more difficult to relocate.
6. Once you have relocated, remain calm and don't try to make up for lost time by racing hard without reading the map. In orienteering, errors often occur one after the other when people try to make up for lost time.
HOW DO I PRACTICE "RECOVER AND RELOCATION"?
Get a group of three or four people. One person (the leader) picks a feature in the terrain and navigates to this location while the others have their maps in their pocket. When the 'leader' arrives at the feature he/she asks the team members to RELOCATE.
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