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Alastair George and Basil Baldwin — Orienteering

Alastair George and Basil Baldwin — Orienteering

“Orienteering is for everybody, it really is, and I think it should have much greater recognition than it has,” says Basil Baldwin, President of our local Goldseekers Orienteering Club.

The modern sport of orienteering involves using a map to navigate an unknown course over various types of terrain. Competitions are held over various distances and can be held in parks, urban environments, forests and bushland.

The sport originated in 19th Century Sweden, where it grew out of navigation training for military officers. 

Basil, who recently turned 80, has been involved in orienteering for 45 years and loves the challenge of it.

“It is active, it is thinking, it helps people's fitness, it is something you can do at all ages and something you can do as a family,” he said

“I recently had my second 40th birthday and I'm still doing it and enjoy every minute of it!”

Last week, the Goldseekers hosted Australian Junior Representative and Orienteering Coach Alastair George who visited local schools to give students a taste of the sport.

19-year-old Alastair has twice represented Australia at Junior World Orienteering Championships and is currently coach-in-residence with Orienteering NSW.

Alastair’s parents are also both active in the sport.

“My parents did it from before I was born and I was just dragged to events since I can remember really,” he said.

“I love how it gets you out and about and I love running in the bush… you are out in the wild and it gets pretty intense sometimes.”

At the top levels Alastair competes at, orienteering athletes require speed, agility and most of all endurance.

“You are running through terrain that's soft underground, you might be falling over, you've got to pick yourself up, you've got to jump over logs and stuff… it really feels a lot worse than running on the road and your pace is a lot slower as you've also got to read the map and when you get towards the end of a course you get really fatigued and it can be really hard to bring your head in and figured out which way to go,” he said.

While just a small sport in Australia, Alastair said he has been among 30,000 competitors at competitions in Europe.

For anyone interested in trying Orienteering, the Goldseekers are currently running a spring program of events at various local parks on Thursday evenings.

“They are open to anybody and everybody,” said Basil. “There will be family groups and older people and for each event we have three courses… you don't have to do the longest, hardest one, you just do what suits you.”

Visit goldseekers.org or find them on Facebook for more information.

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