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Celebrating our female orienteers this International Women's Day

Today, Friday 8 March marks International Women's Day 2024! This year's theme invites us to celebrate and #InspireInclusion. In honour of the Day, we reached out to some of our female orienteers to find out more about what inspired them to start orienteering, what advice they would give to girls and women considering starting out in the sport, and what motivates them to continue their journey. Here is what they told us. 

Lyra Medlock, GB Talent South Squad and Wessex Orienteering Club

My dad originally introduced me to Orienteering as a fun weekend activity. I watched many World Championship races and got more actively involved at W12. Watching the likes of Tove Alexandersson, and later Megan Carter Davies has inspired me to work hard and be dedicated to it. 

If you are looking to get involved in orienteering, go along with some friends, and just enjoy it. Having a good group of friends really helps as you get to make friends for life, and see these people most weekends. 

Watching Megan win a World Champs Medal, has made me even more determined to continue as the opportunites for travel, camps and training are endless. Aswell as the large number of competitions like Oringen and the International Relays. If you stick at it, stay consistent and determined, who knows what could happen?

Kerina Lake, Swansea Bay Orienteering Club

I went to my first event aged 9 months as my family was involved in the sport.  I continued competing until the teenage years hit, when other interests took over. I came back to the sport when I was 19 and working 5 days a week in a kitchen with no windows. My Mum persuaded me to go with her to the Lake District for an event, as the fresh air would do me good - she was right, I was out for well over 3 hours, got very lost as I had forgotten most of what I had learned in my younger years, but I finished - and I was hooked. The sense of achievement was immense, I beamed all the way home and couldn't wait to get back out to an event the following weekend. 

The sport challenges me physically and mentally.  When I am orienteering, my mind is focused on planning and executing how I will navigate from control to control.  It gives me a complete break from everything that is going on in my brain, it gets me out to some of the most stunning locations that the UK has to offer. 

Take a friend along with you if going out alone feels overwhelming, but orienteering does encourage self-reliance and independence, as participants must navigate through the course on their own. For women, this can be particularly empowering, fostering a sense of confidence and self-assurance.

Esther Gooch, Mar Orienteering Club

My husband [encouraged me to get involved]. He told me it was a great family sport where everyone could compete at their own certainly turned out to be true! 

For those new to the sport: have a go, meet new friends and get some good club coaching. Don't worry about making mistakes (they help you learn) as long as you are enjoying yourself!

Ruth Gooch, GB Talent Squad Scotland and Mar Orienteering Club

I have been encouraged to do orienteering from a young age by my family. My advice to young female orienteers looking to break into the GB Team Squads is...don't give up! Keep training, rest and sleep. 

Lindsey Knox, Roxburgh Reivers Orienteering Club

I was introduced to the sport by an enthusiastic teacher at primary school. 

Orienteering allows me to enjoy the physical and mental challenge that straight running races don't provide. And the age classes means a new goal every 5 years.

Every run is different, no-one is watching you and no-one judges you on your appearance. It's a very social sport and I have friends from all over the UK and Europe. The sport has also let me travel all over the world (and the UK) to places that I wouldn't have visited otherwise.

Hannah Mather, GB Talent North Squad and Lincoln Orienteering Group

My dad was an orienteer, which meant that I was brought into the sport at a young age. 

I think it's important to enjoy the little moments. Enjoy the challenge and enjoy the excitement of the sport. Work hard but enjoy the process, don’t let any pressure get to you, you have a better chance of doing well if you enjoy it rather than stress about it!

Wanting to compete with my friends, enjoying seeing them and also trying to get as good as I possibly can motivates me to continue with the sport. 

Are you inspired by our female orienteers and looking to get involved in orienteering?

Why not find out where your local club is today?

Alternatively, find a permanent or virtual orienteering course today via our sister site: Go Orienteering