Competition draws many to Shanghai
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.”