The first few days in the city of Kunming and surroundings in Yunnan province in China’s Southwest were fascinating.
There are few opportunities in the life of a university student to meet on one spot hundreds of people from places all across China and even Europe, while at the same time to enjoy the natural scenery and typical food of the hosts.
All these characters and chapters in our Kunming story have one thing in common: the challenging discipline of orienteering which combines the ability to run and the ability to navigate through an unknown territory with a map and a compass.
The annual 10-day orienteering gathering we are attending was founded in 2016 by mappers from Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangdong province.
With the aim to provide a platform for competing, training, and exchange of ideas, and with the mission to create a wave of interest for orienteering across China, its Chinese name was translated into “Big Dipper 10-Day Wave”.
Thanks to our extremely dedicated and loving organisers, we have had the privilege to run in a small village, on university campuses, in a shopping mall, in an pear orchard, a hill forest above a Taoist temple, and a lakeside golf course.
Each of the tracks came with its own challenges; the windy alleys and many corners of the village, or the impassable fences and rough terrain of the pear orchard demanded a lot of attention and precision.
Among the orienteering enthusiasts in our training there are parents and their children, as well as teachers and their students.
By sharing the passion for orienteering, we all are a colourful mosaic of individuals contributing to the diversity of our training.
For some orienteering may be just a competition, however in our 10-day training orienteering is a means to learn and be inspired by others, to reflect on our performance, and to strive for improvement.
Friendships created in our Kunming story resemble the fulfilling sensation of getting to know an orienteering map by running and analysing it.
The more we discuss together the map and the various routes each of us attempted after a competition, the clearer the contours and colours of our individual personalities and orienteering abilities become, and the more we learn from each other.
The most inspiring thing is to meet fellow orienteering enthusiasts from so many different places and backgrounds who are willing to share their experience.
I firmly believe that after the last run our passion for orienteering and our new friendships will not fade away. An unstoppable wave of orienteering enthusiasm lays ahead of us.