Red Kiwi Orienteering Club hosts sprint event in Whanganui

Carol Ramsden has been part of the Red Kiwi club for 30 years. Photo / Bevan Conley

Whanganui residents will soon be able to try a sport that “definitely builds character”.

The Red Kiwi Orienteering Club is hosting a “Sprint Double” at Bason Reserve and Virginia Lake, with the public encouraged to sign up and try.

Orienteering involves reading a map with a pre-marked route on it, with competitors skirting checkpoints.

It is primarily a one-man business, but teams can also compete.

Event organizer Carol Ramsden said it was a good sport “for all ages and stages”.

“It’s great for fitness, decision making, navigation skills and error correction.

“Orienteering is definitely character building.”

There are four difficulty levels.

“A beginner will be given a map with fences and tracks, and the course will follow them.

“You just have to turn left or right at the right points,” Ramsden said.

“As it gets more difficult, checkpoints can be off-road, behind a hill or through a forest.

“You need a compass when she reaches the higher levels.”

The event in Whanganui will take place at Bason Reserve and Virginia Lake on October 9.

Each location will have three courses – easy, moderate and difficult.

The expected winning time for experienced participants is approximately 15 minutes.

For those at the elite level, a course can take up to an hour and a half and can be eight to 11 kilometers long.

Ramsden, who has been with the Red Kiwi club for 30 years, said there are many orienteering clubs around the country, most of which run “all kinds of competitions”.

“Then there is the national competition at Easter every year which lasts four days.

“We’ve vacationed all over New Zealand with our kids thanks to orienteering.”

His daughter, Tessa Ramsden, is now an elite orienteer.

“She coaches Kiwi teams that have just gone to Australia for their school championships,” Ramsden said.

“The New Zealanders actually came first and second in the five-day competition.

“They were running around the old gold mining territory in Victoria.”

Ramsden said upcoming races at Whanganui will be short and to the point.

“We start at Bason Reserve in the morning and then head to Virginia Lake in the afternoon.

“Everyone is welcome to try out, but they must first register through our website.

There were only a few other people from Whanganui in the Red Kiwi club, Ramsden said.

The Palmerston North based club has around 70 members.

“We have a lot of casual Sunday morning events where people can just come in and try out,” Ramsden said.

“These events bring together up to 100 people.

“You can orienteer as far as you want. It can go all the way to the top…or just have a nice bush walk.”

Registrations for the event can be made at www.redkiwi.org.nz/events/133259/

Dino J. Dotson