The Impact of Orienteering on Women and Girls

This week Scottish Orienteering have been celebrating Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week. Each day this week we have been sharing all the amazing work Women and Girls do for orienteering on our social media platforms. Today we are looking at the impact of orienteering on Women and Girls.

Today we speak to two women from different orienteering backgrounds to find out what the sport means to them.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you started Orienteering? 

NH- My name is Niamh Hunter and I am currently studying chemistry at Edinburgh Uni. I am in my second year as a W21 and have been orienteering ever since I was a W10. I got into orienteering during primary school as we had a Cumbrian primary school orienteering league. After really enjoying these events we joined the local orienteering club, WCOC, and the rest is history!

LH- Hi, my name is Lucie Hamplova and I’m 28 years old. I graduated university a couple years ago and now work in Aberdeen. I joined the Aberdeen University Orienteering Club when I started university in 2016. I had liked running and hiking but prior to coming to university but hadn’t known much about orienteering. When I looked through the list of sports clubs, orienteering caught my eye because it seemed like running with purpose. I decided to give it a go and haven’t stopped since.  

2. What do you enjoy about orienteering?

NH- I love the fact that with orienteering you don’t necessarily have to have the fastest 5k pb for example to still be in with a good chance to do well because there’s such varied terrain and within each race there’s so many chances to both win and lose a race that you just never know whats going to happen. Orienteering is also such a social sport, you can always guarantee that you’ll see someone post race to have a chat with, so its nice as its always such a friendly environment.

LH- I like that looking for controls is almost like a treasure hunt. I also enjoy the post-run map analysis when we compare route choices. Thanks to orienteering I have visited many places all over Scotland I probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. 

3. What impact has orienteering had on you?

NH- Orienteerings given me the chance to travel round the country and abroad with great friends just having a fab time. You’re always guaranteed to make some new friends if you show up to an event anywhere in the world. Watching international competitions is always so inspiring seeing people who you’ve raced against, run (and win!!!) for GB. Orienteering is great fun to train for, especially on a rainy day as it something just a bit more interesting than a standard run. 

LH- Thanks to orienteering I have a regular physical activity most Wednesdays and/ or Sundays. I think I have become more resilient to different kinds of weather as orienteering events take place no matter if it’s sunny, raining or snowing. Moreover, I have also developed much better appreciation of nature as we orienteer in all kinds of terrain and often get amazing views of the surrounding countryside.

4. What would you say to other women and girls wanting to try orienteering? 

NH- Orienteering caters for every ability really well, you will always fine a course at an event that will suit what you want to do! The orienteering community is actually pretty big meaning in each club you’ll have people that race for GB but also those that just go out for a bit of fun so at whatever stage in your orienteering journey you’ll have people of all ages to join in with and get advice from. Everyone is extremely welcoming, so if you’re debating whether or not to try it just come along and get stuck in as someone will always be there to give a helping hand and make sure you have fun!!

LH- Don’t be afraid to try. There are always people that can help you. I have seen plenty of newcomers coming to an event with no prior knowledge of orienteering. There is always someone who is happy to explain how the map works, how to use compass etc. In fact, I have never met an orienteer who wouldn’t be friendly and willing to help.

Thank you to Niamh and Lucie for letting me interview them, it was lovely hearing your responses. From speaking to Niamh and Lucie it is evident that orienteering has had a beneficial impact on their lives. I am sure that anyone who orienteers will agree!

We want to encourage more women and girls to try out orienteering and feel the beneficial impact. It was great speaking to women from different orienteering backgrounds highlighting the multiple pathways we can use to engage women and girls in orienteering. Although they started orienteering through different pathways both Niamh and Lucie went on to become Presidents their University Orienteering Clubs; inspiring other women and girls to get involved in orienteering. #shecanshewill