After my latest business trip to Singapore was scheduled I opened Google and checked for orienteering in Singapore, not really expecting to find anything. Imagine my elation when I saw that there was an event, Ubin Wayfinder 2014, exactly on the weekend I would be here. I immediately e-mailed my clubmate Gil Rinat, who just moved to Singapore on relocation a few months ago, and asked him if he knew about it. Of course he did, and we set our plans in motion.
Early yesterday morning Gil picked me up from the hotel, and after a short drive and a short boat trip we were on the island of Pulau Ubin, where the organiser Sebastian Wong was waiting for us (and about 150 other orienteers). The event was very well organised from a logistical point of view (including Sport-Ident punching), but the Singaporeans have very little technical knowledge of orienteering, so the map was an adaptation of some sort of tourist map, and many of the controls were located vaguely, but it’s a start.
The terrain here is basically jungle, with various small roads and biking paths. My strategy was not to enter the jungle unless I had to, though most of it didn’t look too bad in the end, and to run slowly but steadily – it is always hot and humid here, so I ran with water and drank more than a litre of it during the race. The map was inaccurate in many places (look at the QuickRoute track), but with intuition you could find the right tracks, and the controls, quite easily.
I won the “solo” race (there were “duo” categories as well) in 1:08:13 for the 8km (approximately) course. I even received a simple HR monitor/watch for my efforts. Most importantly, I met a lot of enthusiastic beginning orienteers (and even some experienced Swedish students), and we started making plans for the future. Gil can help them with some technical stuff, and will scout out various parks to find candidates for mapping. Then we need mappers – if I have another business trip with a weekend I’ll be able to make a small map, or maybe someone else can come.
Singapore is the 17th country I’ve orienteered in, the first in Asia, and for quite obvious reasons the least developed – but I hope I’ll be able to help out, even if my being here has nothing to do with orienteering.
My route is below, and a video with the highlights is here.