WOD Ambassador – Eef van Dongen

For World Orienteering Day 2022 we have four new Ambassadors.

First out is Eef van Dongen from the Netherlands.

Photo: Lukas Budinsky

Why did you start practicing orienteering?

Because my partner trains orienteering a lot, so I had to, if I wanted to spend time with him! Another important reason is that I love being in nature and orienteering gives the opportunity to really be a part of the forest, in a much more natural way than if you’d stick to trails.

Can you tell us about an early memory of orienteering that you have?

Since I took a beginners course as late as 2018, I don’t very early memories. I lived in Switzerland at that time, and my partner and I spent a holiday in Ticino just a few weeks after EOC was organised there, so we went training together on the EOC maps. Most of the trainings we ran together so he could help me out if I got lost, but one shorter training on a fixed course I tried alone. I got terribly lost and decided to just run uphill to the highest point of the map and start over from there… to find out that there was a wild boar waiting for me at the top! I got scared and ran away without checking my compass, so I had to start over with trying to find out where I was once I was sure I had gotten far enough away from the wild boar. An experience I’ll never forget!

Photo: Lukas Budinsky

What is special with orienteering?

There are many special aspects about orienteering. Most of all, it is a great combination of a mental and physical challenge, requiring full focus throughout the whole race. I also really like that it brings you to special places, where you’d never come otherwise. Because we mainly run off-trail, using a map and compass, most people wouldn’t even know how to get there!

What is your advice to children and youths when it comes to practice orienteering?

Dare to make mistakes! Everyone makes mistakes when learning orienteering, and making mistakes means that you are challenging yourself to run a difficult course.

What are your dreams when it comes to orienteering?

Since it is not a very long time ago I started orienteering, I still need to limit my speed in the forest often in order to keep contact with the map. Therefore I am often much less tired after an orienteering race than I would be after a running race. My dream is to improve my forest orienteering skills enough to be able to get really tired physically without making big mistakes, that would be a great experience!

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