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Scandinavian Orienteering Dominance Explained?

Posted on Wednesday, April 1, 1998.

Researchers at the Institute of Applied Physical Research (IAPR) may have at last explained why Scandinavia has dominated the orienteering world for so long.

Their discovery is based on the observation that maps in Sweden and Norway tend to have very little green on them. This led them to examine the green ink used to print orienteering maps, and this showed a remarkable result.

Green inks can have up to 1000 times the iron content of other colours. This concentration of iron, particularly in areas mapped as solid green, can have a significant influence on compass bearings. Orienteers from countries where maps typically have extensive areas mapped as walk or fight are constantly struggling against this influence, and are often pulled off of the correct bearing by several degrees. Swedes and Norwegians, running on their predominantly white maps, do not suffer from this handicap, and therefore obtain a massive advantage over orienteers from other countries.

Now that this discrepancy has been found it is likely that an appeal will be made to the IOF to change the current IOF mapping standards. Chemical analysis of other inks has shown that replacing green with blue would give the fairest results. Future maps may therefore use shades of blue to denote vegetation, with green being used to denote water features. The typical scattering of ditches, streams and ponds found on orienteering maps will not be enough to affect compass bearings. However, Finland may be forced to find its own solution for WOC 2001, given the large number of lakes that feature on a typical Finnish map.

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Breakthrough in real-time tracking of orienteers

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