Kirsten Mayland finds her passion for running in the wild – The Knight Crier
TOWAMENCIN – When we find ourselves in an unfamiliar place, we immediately rush to Google Maps to help us find our way. For North Penn High School junior Kirsten Mayland, the decision never crossed her mind.
Orienteering is a predominantly European sport, of military origin, which involves both running and navigation skills. It was brought by Finnish teacher Piltti Heiskanen who organized the first orienteering race at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
The orienteers receive a topographic map and a compass which allow them to navigate from one point to another in unfamiliar terrain. Whoever has the fastest time wins.
âIt’s fun just because it’s about finding that balance between physical ability and ability to navigate,â Mayland said.
Participants are also grouped into teams, however, they compete individually and start on their own without the influence of others. The teams are basically there for points and support.
It was Mayland’s mother who introduced him to the sport. She had been orienteering since high school, and once Mayland was born and could run, her mother took her to the woods. Around the age of 10, Mayland began teaching classes in which her parents followed her to make sure she didn’t get lost. At 12, she took lessons on her own.
âI think it’s just getting ready; there are different difficulty levels so you can start on what are called white courses which are all on trails. It’s also kind of like some people can read and walk and be able to process what you see while still being able to move, so that just reinforces that skill, âMayland explained.
At first orienteering was just a hobby, and Mayland went through a period of time where she debated whether to continue, but after seeing others compete in the National Junior Program perform. globally, she decided that was something she wanted to do.
âIt’s not very popular in the US which means for my skill level it was easier for me to participate in the program. I was just in the junior development program, not the national junior program. I just needed to go to the team practice and the accumulation of races is what allowed me to be part of the team, âexplained Mayland.
To be part of the team, you must have American nationality. The majority of the team live in the United States, however, some of the team are in college and live in Canada, Scotland, Sweden or Norway. In the United States, there are people who live on the west coast around Seattle, and then some in Boston.
The courses are of different lengths. For runners, a pace of 10 minutes per kilometer is considered a good time. As for the shorter courses, it should take around 20 minutes, but the time will vary depending on the size of the course.
Mayland had been on a course for over an hour before, but he also got lost along the way.
âI was probably thirteen, I was on the right track and decided it was too much and I’m going back. I figured I could just cut through that stretch of forest and found another trail, but kept walking. It was probably 20 minutes away, and I was like “what’s going on?” It’s pouring rain, and it was the middle of the pollen season, so my pants never turned yellow without a spot, and I was just trying to suppress the nervous breakdown, and then finally I’m like “I don’t know where I am “, so I just got back, and it was only forty minutes, then I showed up on arrival, and my mother said to me,” I was about to go to you. look, âMayland explained.
âFor all those who are afraid of getting lost, there are these different levels. There are the short courses that are 2 kilometers all on trails, and you are not going to get lost and even if you do we know where you would have gone and we could find you. Once you’re comfortable you can go up, so it’s not like we’re throwing you in the middle of the woods and just saying ‘go find your way’, âMayland said.
âThere is usually what is called a safety stop. That’s if you take your compass and just walk north, for example, you’re just going to touch the edge of the map that’s marked with some obvious feature like a road. Once you get to the road, you might not know where you are on the road, but you can find your way back from there, âMayland explained.
Mayland participates in local events every weekend to train for major competitions. There are 8 different types of competitions which are classified at national level. There is a fall and spring season, and Mayland can attend 2-3 each season.
âDepending on the weekend, it can be a whole weekend – 36 hours – to get to the meet wherever it is. The majority of them are probably 5 am on weekends. I also like helping and taking orders, âsaid Mayland.
âWith orienteering there is the physical side and the navigation, so we are pretty much on our own to train physically and that’s why I did cross-country and track, but then in navigation, our trainers send out maps, and we’re supposed to go shopping with them and just do the little exercise on the map that helps train your brain while you workout. You can train your mind to process this information faster and make better decisions [while running on through the terrain]. Physically we are alone and in navigation we just make the maps that are sent, âexplained Mayland.
âThere are also wheelchair orienteering races where you sit and do. Basically the best training you can get is to just go out there and do orienteering, but since we’re in the US we usually only get a chance to orient ourselves on weekends. end, so it provides additional brain training, âadded Mayland.
Over the summer, Mayland had the opportunity to compete in Denmark with the US Junior Orienteering Team for the World Junior Orienteering Championship. In the team there are 6 female athletes and 6 male athletes.
Last year, in April, Mayland took part in team trials and managed to secure the last place. At the beginning of July, she flew to Denmark and stayed there for 2 weeks.
âMy father and I left a bit early just to see Copenhagen. Our flight was delayed for 26 hours, so my dad and I had a great time walking around New York City, âMayland said.
The first week was devoted to training which allowed participants to familiarize themselves with the field and to do activities. The second week was the competition which consisted of 5 races: a sprint race, a long one, a qualifying average, a final average and a relay.
âI ran in the 5 and at the end I’m exhausted – it’s been a lot of racing. I placed well – I placed well for my age because I was sixteen when I was running, and you could be up to twenty. There were always a few people underneath me, about 20, but the majority of people beat me. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun and I didn’t get lost as often as I would have thought, âsaid Mayland.
In Denmark, the team competed mainly against the Scandinavian countries, but they also competed against China which had a Chinese and Hong Kong team, Korea, Israel and Moldova. They also had the chance to befriend the South African team.
âIt makes the world a lot smaller knowing that you have people you can text who live across the world. The fact that you have friends in different places that may seem very different at first glance, it does just brings the world together. Also fair with my team itself, I like the sense of family that we’ve developed; we have calls where we catch up, and that’s really good, “said Mayland.
âI love nature. It’s really nice to have this excuse to go to all these places and run through the forest and see all the different terrains. I love to be active, but I don’t just like to be. stuck in my head. I love that orienteering allows me to find that balance between physics and navigation. It’s one of those sports where you can use your brain, but it’s not just a sport Reflective, it’s also a racing sport, and that uniqueness is amazing, âsaid Mayland.
Currently, Mayland is attempting to map the entire high school to create an orienteering map. If she is successful, she hopes to start an orienteering club.
âI’m removing orthographic images from the USGS. I use it as a model. Then I also use an open street map that has the outline of the building. I put it all in Openorienteering Mapper and then draw it by hand, âsaid Mayland.
âFor now, I’m currently one of the only people here who knows what [orienteering] is, so I’d like to start small and use it as a training course to teach people ‘this is how you read a map, this is what a compass is, this is how you read it. use, that’s how you go about running a course. ‘ If they’re interested enough if they want to continue, just tell people âmy current local club is the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association, we have meetings every week,â and just give them that information so they can go on their own. If it gets bigger, maybe we could bring people in, âMayland said.
If you would like to be part of Kirsten’s orienteering club, you can contact her by email: