UofG Athletes: Meet Finlay
Hi, I'm Finlay and I've been playing Orienteering for 8 years!
Orienteering is an adventurous and often misunderstood sport that combines the speed and endurance of running with the mental problem solving of map reading.
I was introduced to it young and have great memories of getting lost in the forest, but now I've been racing seriously for about 8 years and I love how much the sport has given me...
The running is a big part of racing and the standard is high. Some of the best Orienteers in the country are also some of the best Hill and Cross-country runners. Training can be very varied, including pure running sessions, hills, gym and cross-training like cycling. This builds the strength and endurance to run over any terrain.
No matter how fast you can run, you still need to be able to read a map. Map reading, like any skill, takes time and practice to improve. The hours spent training with a map in the forest are important but simply looking at maps and studying them can accelerate the process.
There are clubs for the different areas of Scotland and Uni clubs as well, like our very own GUOC. These clubs put on events and training and are the main drivers of the sport. Events go from local club level, to Scottish races, to British and international events such as the Scottish 6-Day; a week-long competition held in Scotland every 2 years, with 3000 competitors from many countries and some of the best in the world!
I progressed from being a club runner to being in the Scottish Junior Squad, then the British Talent Squad and have raced internationally for both countries. With these squads I have done tours in Britain, Sweden and Hungary and have been on week-long training camps. I am currently at the stage where I’m training for selection for the Junior World Champs this summer and at this level it is getting more serious, but the sport is still very laid back.
Being a relatively small sport, it’s hard to not know everyone and the lengthy camps and full calendar mean my competitors are also close friends. Even the pros are still down to earth, such as orienteering legend and 14-time world champion Thierry Giergou who came across to Scotland last year to train the Scottish Junior Squad for a weekend.
I feel that Orienteering sits in a sweet spot between being a sport that anyone can do and enjoy and being an intense, high pace adventure sport for the toughest athletes.
For me it is unique, I love the complexity and the focus involved and the amazing places it can take you. I’m looking forward to the year ahead!