Orienteering events are held regularly on weekends and evenings. At these events, upwards of 100 people gather and start their courses over a two-hour period. After our event on March 22, all orienteering events were cancelled until further notice. COVID-19 restrictions threatened to derail the Tasmanian orienteering season.
Some lateral thinking led to a host of new orienteering opportunities being available during lockdown. In the south, a new isolation racing format emerged from members of the Australopers Orienteering Club. Organisers set the courses, taped the control locations and made the maps available on the Orienteering Tasmania website. Competitors printed the maps, ran the courses in their own time, uploaded their GPS traces and entered their times into a Google spreadsheet, where results were calculated and ranked by age/gender handicap.
To comply with COVID restrictions, the events were at locations in bushland close to Hobart. At each event participants could choose from three courses (Long, Medium or Short).
The first series, the ISO 3-Day, was held over Easter and featured three races. The success of this led to 3 series of 4 events each – the Corona Cup, the COVID Canter and the Recovery Romp. The next series was Dark OFO, a series of 3 events to be completed at night by torchlight. In the final event participants had 2 hours to find as many controls as possible.
By 19 July the COVID restrictions had eased enough for us to resume our normal orienteering events.
The first two series were made available to members only. After that we opened the courses to the general public. Maps were placed on our website and available for download. We publicised this through a radio interview, an article in The Mercury newspaper, our website and social media.
We recognised that Orienteering is essentially an individual activity, conducted in bushland. Through our initiative members could continue their involvement in the sport, keep fitness levels up and use the events as training opportunities, while complying with the COVID restrictions.
By opening the events to the public, we took the opportunity for people to experience our sport for the first time or to return after a period of absence. Many sports, particularly team sports were unable to continue during the restrictions, so this gave people an opportunity to keep up their fitness in a fun and (if they chose) competitive way.
People could access a map from our website by supplying their email address and informing us how many people intended to use the map. This enabled us to keep tabs on the numbers of people participating. 100 members 153 non-members participated.
When the restrictions were lifted we followed each non-member up with an invitation to our first normal event.
Due to the success of the initiative, this COVID style of events has been included in the 2021 calendar and will continue to be used as a valuable training, fitness and promotional tool.