A different Christmas present! This year Neil and I went to Israel for Christmas to see our grandchildren. To add to the attraction of seeing everyone, we added orienteering. There was a 2-day event, on the Friday and Saturday just after Christmas. We had late starts on the Friday. There were basically 6 courses: short, short+, medium and medium+, long and long+. I did short+ which covers the age range W35-75, so it was good for me. Neil did the medium course which is aimed at the M35-50 age group, similar to our blue, or a longer green, whereas the short+ was like a shorter green though the lengths were 3.8 kms and 4.2 kms.
The terrain is very different from our own, as is the weather! It is really much more technical and physical than similar courses at home. We had a lot of fun and my Day 2, which was supposedly the more difficult of my courses, I was able to complete whereas Day 1 I didn’t – in fact I believe all the controls were in before me!!! I did manage to find the finish.
We met really nice people – one of whom is the chairman of the Israeli Orienteering Federation. Neil was asked, as our Chairman, to present the medals to the winners and each was also given an umbrella with an ‘orienteer’ and “Israel Orienteering Federation” printed on it. The umbrella was red, and nice and bright. The symbolism of it is this is the rainy season here – maybe lasts all of 4 days! While we were out the weather was beautiful, really warm, although it does get colder quite early in the afternoon.
We spent the weekend in Tel Aviv and explored a lot of places we hadn’t visited before, and again the weather was great, lovely and warm. It had been really cold for a couple of days after we arrived but seemed to change for the orienteering and then stay good.
We have orienteered here before and it really doesn’t get any easier, but is a lot of fun. So anyone interested in an unusual Christmas present, feel free to ask us for the contact details. Their ‘O’ season is similar to ours – September to May, and they do try to have orienteering somewhere each weekend – Israel is small enough to be able to travel the whole country in a day although it is a bit far for a single event!
Source: Newsletter of North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club
Originally published: March 2009