The IOF recently published an article about an orienteering project in Palestine (http://orienteering.org/map-project-in-palestine/), around the village of Battir in the West Bank. It made for interesting reading, but the last paragraphs are frustrating:
“After converting the orienteering map, Hervé Quinquenel hoped that someone could take the orienteering project in charge, but sadly he could not find anyone competent and motivated enough in the area. The hope is not lost though:
– My dream is to find someone that could bring orienteering to life in Battir certainly, but also in the surrounding areas. Imagine the old cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem for the World Orienteering Sprint Championships. They would surely be incredible places, exclaims Hervé Quinquenel.”
Battir (the blue circle on the map) is located right on the official border between Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy (the dashed line). Just across that border, 1 km to the north, is the map of Yad Kennedy, which has been used several times for orienteering events. Even closer, to the west, is the forest of Mavo Beitar, which was partially mapped in 2007, until the Czech mapper Tom Novak was attacked and injured by Palestinians (apparently trying to steal his car) and quit the job. He hasn’t returned to Israel since. Last week there was an orienteering event in Efrat, a Jewish settlement within the occupied territories, just south of Battir. And of course there are several maps in the western part of Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, unless there is a major change in the situation, there is little chance of cooperation with the orienteers in Battir. For us Israelis it is considered unsafe to travel into Palestinian villages, while they would need special permits to cross the border into Israel. There are several organizations that promote relations between Israelis and Palestinians and could probably set up some sort of cooperation, but someone would have to get them involved.
Meanwhile, we can dream. And maybe the next time we visit Roni’s relatives in the village of Ora, just north of Battir, I’ll open up Hervé’s map and a pair of binoculars and try some armchair orienteering.
Stuff I did (not blog about) during the summer:
- 16th April: Our annual club relay. In my opinion it was nothing special (wrong type of terrain for this time of year?), and for the first time I wasn’t club chairman so I didn’t have to organise all the teams. My team finished 5th in the open category, our women won for the fourth year in a row, and for me the highlight was Roni leading our second women’s team to fifth place while over 6 months pregnant.
- 19-20th May: I participated in the Mountain to Valley relay race, which is basically a 24-leg, 215 km trail run for teams of 4, 6 or 8. I was the fastest runner on our team from work, and one dropped out, so in the end I ran 4 legs instead of 3. My first leg was a really fast and flat 11 km, but the interesting part was running legs 14-15 at night – 17 km, mostly in forest on the orienteering maps of Zippori and Shimshit which I know very well. I finished with leg 23, which is also on a map (Kfar Hahoresh) but mostly an uphill slog, so not fun.
- 4th June: There was supposed to be an event in the Circassian village of Kfar Kama on this date, and I had just finished the map. It’s a very nice village with some intricate winding alleys, so I had agreed to do the work even though I don’t really like sprint mapping. At the last moment, someone woke up to the fact that it was the Ramadan month, so the event was postponed to September, and then somehow it got called off altogether. I’m sure the map will be used one day.
- 26th June: ISOA general assembly. Matan was born on the day of the assembly two years ago. No such luck this time…
- 14th July: Yael is born.
- 15th July: End of season prize-giving, swimming pool and sprint course at Sarid, which is very near home. Roni was resting in hospital and the boys were with their grandparents, so I had permission to go. The course was nice, but it’s too hot here in July.
- 29th July: Ziv Noiman, our “General Secretary” for over 20 years, celebrated his 50th birthday with a 50-control training in the town of Kfar Yona. Still too hot, and too long as well (I ran about 9km on the course), but at this time of year any orienteering is refreshing. I’m planning something more impressive for my 50th birthday (a 50 km relay?), but there’s still some time.
- 10th September: We had this Saturday reserved for the Kfar Kama event (see 4th June), so in order not to waste it I had three weeks to plan and execute a small forest event on my map of Birya West, which is high enough in the hills to mitigate some of the heat. Going out into the forest was fun, and there were over 200 participants.
- 23rd September: I ran a 15 km track race “Beshvil Habanim” organised by the Druze community on Mount Carmel. My time was just over 75 minutes – I run faster, but there’s a very steep uphill near the end which kills off the pace (total climb is over 300m).
- 24th September: Yael’s first orienteering event. We did the family course at Ilaniya – Yael (2 months) on Roni, Matan (2) on my back, Alon (5) on his own two feet, and Ayala (13) independently with a friend.
- 1st October: A small training event on Yokneam Slopes, which is very near home so I went. The map had paths removed, so it was quite challenging. It’s probably one of the least suitable areas for removing the paths from the map, because much of the terrain is steep, green, featureless slopes with paths contouring around, but at this time of year you take what you can get.
I’m working now on a mini-rogaine in Birya Forest on November 5th, and of course gearing up for the start of the competitive season. With three small children, we’ll be picking and choosing our events even more than last season, but I hope to reach most of the national events and compete in the championships.
I haven’t blogged for half a year, but I’m still here and orienteering. The summer was long and mostly O-less, but our new year has just arrived and I’m gearing up to face all the new challenges and get out into the forest as much as possible.
The greatest new challenge: Yael, my fourth child and second daughter, now 3 months old. Note that I now have a full mixed relay team, but that doesn’t make getting to the events any easier.
I’m also feeling my age (48, for those of you who’ve stopped counting). I took a really long break from training at the beginning of summer, because I felt my body needed it, and I’m trying out some new training methods for my running. At the moment everything looks good, but I still haven’t decided if I’ll compete this season in H45 (probably not – too short), H40 (where I’ll be competitive), or H35 (the most fun, but no chance of a podium).
Work is a challenge as well. Over the past year I’ve phased out gradually from a fixed position at one customer to consulting for multiple customers, some far away and some from home (though I’m still working for the same company). This means my schedule is different every week and can include lots of travelling. Roni’s schedule will also be a mess, though easier, once she finishes maternity leave in a few weeks: she’s finishing her studies as a maths teacher, starting to teach, and still two days a week at her old job. She’s also back running and cycling for her health (and fitness, very soon), and that has to fit in with my training as well.
I’ve made a few new year’s resolutions, and one of them is to stop neglecting my blog, so there will be lots of updates coming up. Next: a brief summary of the last 6 months.