If you go down in the woods today, you'd better be prepared - if they're French woods, that is. Legislation passed originally in March 1999 and adopted by the French Orienteering Federation (FFCO) in March 2008 requires that anyone taking part in an orienteering competition in France must have either a competition licence issued by your O-Federation or a medical certificate to prove you're fit and are not taking drugs. It seems to be driven in part by the anti-doping policy of the FFCO.
The letter from FFCO General Secratary Gérard Lecourt to National Federations is here. If this is enforced it will be a major disincentive to foreign orienteers competing in France. The event organisers will keep a copy of the certificate in case of any incidents. French competitors evidently have an annual competition licence which involves a medical examination and a declaration by your doctor that you are fit to undertake an orienteering course - the French medical cert is here. If you'd like to read the full medical regulations (in French) you can see them here. The medical is expected to include ECG's and various other examinations and is aimed at finding out if you have any contra-indications which would suggest that you should not go orienteering. A comprehensive but non-exhaustive list is included in Appendix 1 of the document - the one malady which seems to be absent is hyp-O-chondria.
If this had been published on April 1st I wouldn't have been surprised, but it seems to be for real.
On the other hand, French World Champion Thierry Gueorgiou may be able to help your orienteering technique:
"I trust my ability to correctly simplify the map," he says.
When I give Tero a map and ask him to sketch how he sees the map between two controls, I get back - in a few seconds - a sketch that would be a completely functional simplification of the challenges the leg has.
Of about seventy map symbols, he has picked out five. What looked like a difficult orienteering leg now has the difficulty of a beginner's course. Through this approach, his course becomes easier than his competitor's, I think, and test my idea on the world champion, who laughs, "Yes, that is right; that's the right way to describe my orienteering technique."
This ability to simplify the map is something Tero practices continually. And he doesn't need to go out in the forest to keep it.
"You can train anywhere. You're brain doesn't notice the difference between a picture of reality and a mental image," he says. This method requires a lot of concentration. But staying focused for an entire race is, according to Tero, impossible. When competitors try to continually force themselves to have a deep and long-lasting concentration, the professional from
"Everyone talks about having to be 100% focused from start to finish, but that doesn't work. The key is to know when you can relax. During my middle distance final in
His new book, "Snow on the Equator - an African Memoir" is published by Ashfield Press.
Read what local free paper "Dublin People" said about it here.