Com­pe­ti­tion draws many to Shang­hai

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI XUEQING in Shang­hai lix­ue­qing@chi­

Com­peti­tors hop­ing for glory in the fifth an­nual Shang­hai City Ori­en­teer­ing Chal­lenge combed the city for clues on June 6. Peo­ple sprinted through city streets and land­marks, climbed walls and even prac­ticed Kung Fu as part of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Nearly 11,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in the com­pe­ti­tion, in­clud­ing 100 in­di­vid­u­als from abroad. They formed teams of five peo­ple and com­peted along 24 routes of dif­fer­ent themes, such as arts and cul­ture, sports, ecol­ogy and cool styling.

To fin­ish the game, the com­peti­tors had to find out all the co­or­di­nates on their routes. In­struc­tions to the next co­or­di­nate were sent to their smartphones only af­ter their team ful­filled the task on the pre­vi­ous one. The team that used the least amount of time on each route won.

“It’s a very hot day, but it was so much fun,” said Don­ald Forst from Chicago, adding that run­ning on a sunny day with the tem­per­a­ture hit­ting 30 de­grees Cel­sius was a great chal­lenge.

His team “Shang­hai hik­ers” fin­ished the No 17 route in 3 hours and 3 min­utes. It cov­ered a length of about 30 kilo­me­ters with eight co­or­di­nates, some of which are even new to the Chi­nese. Each co­or­di­nate was about 1 to 3 kilo­me­ters from a metro sta­tion. Forst ran and walked over 11 kilo­me­ters. Af­ter the fourth co­or­di­nate, he felt de­hy­drated.

The No 17 route was spe­cially de­signed for for­eign­ers. Each of the 60 teams signed up for it had at least one mem­ber from places other than the Chi­nese main­land.

Tra­di­tional Chi­nese el­e­ments, such as lan­tern rid­dle-solv­ing and pa­per crane fold­ing were in­cluded. That was where Forst, the fastest run­ner in his team, ran into prob­lem.

At Shang­hai Cir­cus World — the fifth co­or­di­nate — his team was re­quired to fold five pa­per cranes, one crane for each mem­ber.

“The most dif­fi­cult part was the pa­per fold­ing, of course. It’s be­yond my skills,” he said.

Ori­en­teer­ing orig­i­nated from mil­i­tary train­ing in Swe­den in the late 19th Cen­tury. It re­quires the com­peti­tors to nav­i­gate in the wilder­ness with a map and a compass.

The ori­en­teer­ing chal­lenge, which al­lowed the com­peti­tors to take public trans­port and turn to their smartphones for help, was eas­ier to fin­ish but dif­fi­cult to win.

The re­li­a­bil­ity of nav­i­gat­ing smart­phone ap­pli­ca­tions and com­peti­tor’s abil­ity to use them well was in­stru­men­tal. Forst’s team got off the sub­way two stops ear­lier. This cost them four ex­tra min­utes to wait for the next train.

Back­ups ready at home were in­dis­pen­si­ble, too. At the third co­or­di­nate, the team was re­quired to upload to WeChat Mo­ments — a popular Chi­nese so­cial net­work­ing plat­form — a photo of one mem­ber prac­tic­ing Kung Fu. The team can't get pro­ceed un­til the photo re­ceives 10 likes.

The win­ning team of No 17 route was “We love hik­ing”, which fin­ished the com­pe­ti­tion in 2 hours and 27 min­utes. It was less than 3 min­utes faster than the runnerup team “We run slowly and slowly”. They got stuck at the pa­per crane, too, but were able to win by run­ning faster than oth­ers, said Felipe Leefu Huang Lin of Brazil.

The an­nual city ori­en­teer­ing com­pe­ti­tion was ini­ti­ated in Shang­hai in 2011. There was only one route that year. Seventy teams and 350 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated.

“Peo­ple tend to stick to cer­tain ar­eas. Even Shang­hai na­tives couldn’t pos­si­bly say they know ev­ery cor­ner of the city. The com­pe­ti­tion gives them a chance to ex­plore the city,” said Xu Chao, the or­ga­nizer of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Most of the com­peti­tors fall into the age group of 20 to 40, he said. “They want to have more ex­er­cise but couldn’t find proper venues or don’t know which ex­er­cises suit them. City ori­en­teer­ing, whose door­sill is low, gets them out­doors and en­joy sports with oth­ers.”

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