Istanbul 5 Days: Turkey’s biggest orientation event

The 15th Istanbul 5 Days, a one-of-a-kind orienteering competition that involves map and terrain interpretation, kicks off in Istanbul on Tuesday, October 30.

The five-day contest, also known as Ist5days, is the only orienteering competition in the world that involves two continents. The event will end on Sunday, November 4. Each day of the competition will feature different orienteering races held in courses set up all around Istanbul, including Belgrade Forest, Maltepe, Büyükada, Sultanahmet and even in the Grand Bazaar.

This year’s competition will welcome more than 500 participants from Turkey and beyond.

A participant checks a map during last year’s competition at Maçka Park, Istanbul.

For many international enthusiasts, orienteering has become a popular activity to experience different countries as it not only offers physical challenges, but also gives you the opportunity to meet other like-minded active people. .

Orienteering is a popular activity around the world for its combination of mental and physical skills. It involves using a map as participants navigate from point to point over varying terrain while moving quickly. Ist5days was first organized by Istanbul Orienteering Sports Club in 2004.

The club is made up of volunteers and orienteering experts who meet weekly in Istanbul. The people behind the organization, some of whom work in IT or textiles and many of whom hold management positions, are passionate about orienteering. They spend their free time organizing Ist5Days, the biggest annual orienteering event in Turkey.

Istanbul Orienteering Sports Club coordinator Alper Saydam said: “

Before Ist5days, we held two competitions, a spring cup and a fall cup. However, when we started competing in international races, we decided to combine the two events into one longer event in Turkey. Thus, Ist5Days was born.”

This year’s competition consists of five different orienteering races with varying distances and styles. The first day of racing will start on Wednesday October 31 with a middle distance track in the Belgrade forest. On the second day, there will be a sprint in Maltepe’s Orhangazi Şehir Parkı. On the third day, the competition will go to the largest of the Princes’ Islands, Büyükada; followed by a long distance competition in the forest of Belgrade the next day. The final competition is called a “super sprint” and will take place in Çemberlitaş and the Grand Bazaar.

People from all over the world come to participate in this annual competition. This year there will be participants from 23 different countries. Of the 500 competitors in total, about half will be foreigners.

“It’s a great way for orienteering enthusiasts to meet fellow orienteers and embark on a five-day adventure together,” Saydam said. “At the end of these five days, people may be tired, but they also begin to happily plan how they will participate in next year’s event,” he added.

When asked if beginners can participate in the event, Saydam said: “Ist5days is open to beginners as well as advanced orienteers. While advanced level participants will compete in their own categories, newcomers can participate in the easier level “open” category. This way, more experienced orienteering experts can share their wisdom with those trying out the sport for the first time.

Responding to a question about physical fitness, Saydam said: “You don’t necessarily have to be physically fit. Orienteering is half physical and half mental. What matters more than running fast is being able to choose the best path, so you basically just know how to walk to be able to do orienteering.”

As for how to get started, the Istanbul Orienteering Sports Club regularly organizes orienteering training, as well as beginner classes every Sunday from September to June. There are approximately 150 participants each week and last year alone there were approximately 2,000 new entrants to the sport of orienteering.

Saydam added that there are also other orienteering organizations in Turkey, such as “Oryantiring Akademi” and “Istanbul Oryantiring İl Temsilciliği”. Both organize training and orienteering.

“There are also orienteering clubs in provinces outside Istanbul. Some universities also have orienteering clubs,” he said.

Go to to register for Istanbul 5 Days. There is a minimal participation fee. Transport and hotels for international participants have also been arranged.

In addition to the competition, there will also be a number of activities for the visiting participants which will include a historic city tour, a horse-drawn carriage ride on the Princes’ Islands, a tour of Kadıköy, a boat trip on the Bosphorus and even a visit to a historic Turkish bath.

To learn more about Istanbul Orienteering Sports Club activities throughout the year, visit

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Dino J. Dotson