It’s funny how we evolve as orienteers through the years. Experience will do that to you, but also the sport itself keeps adapting and coming up with new things, new rules, new gizmos!
I don’t know how long most of you have been orienteers, but if you have been at least as long as me, I’m sure there are a few memories in there of the cards that you would bring with you on a race, when you really used those punches in the controls.
Somewhat like those old rotary dial phones that kids today don’t understand how they were used, I think the same happens with the punches and their original use. The SI Card and the electronic punch changed everything, from the speed in a race to route designs. Today it’s fairly common to cross a route and pass by the same area in different parts of a race or do loops and pass the same control several times. This was impossible a few years ago!
Even the chip SI Card evolved so fast that you would buy a last version and after a few months there would be one or two newer and faster versions.
And then came the contactless AIR+ SIAC version that was another huge jump from previous versions. Many of you have one same as me and you must have felt like me when you first used it with compatible controls… I felt like a kid with a new toy and it was AWESOME!
As you already know I’m mostly urban, and in urban orienteering races, contactless SI Card really puts the “race” on that sentence. I already was in love with urban orienteering but the first time I used the contactless system, two year ago, I became an instant fan and still am! It really makes the difference and is absolute fun to pass by a control and just hover your hand over it and never stop running (ok, you refrain the pace a bit).
And then you start developing a new movement just after passing the control, that is to bring the AIR+ to your ear and get that satisfying beep-beep-beep. It may look weird to others (non AIR+ converted) but, goddamit!, that’s a great sound as you speed up again!
Another particular twist (and it may be just me…) is that even my route choices have unconsciously changed, and I try to make to the next control in a way that I won’t have to change direction and just hover and speed up. Changing directions after that punch means slowing down… and no one wants to slow down, right?
If you haven’t yet got the AIR+ full experience, in a race with compatible control stations, you don’t know what you’re missing! Contactless punching was a true game changer for urban orienteering (I would say more so than forest) and all who have tried it will say it makes a big difference in the way you look at an orienteering race.
One of the major questions today , when you enter for a new event, is: Will it be contactless? This goes to show how important and how popular this little object has become in the orienteering world! And who knows what will they come up next, to improve it!
Buy one right now through this link and I promise you will never regret it. Or even buy a second or third one in different colors!
Better yet, get the 2019 WMOC limited edition and show off to your friends and fellow competitors!
Disclosure statement: When you click on the links above, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you, when you buy. It’s the way those businesses say thanks for spreading the word. And I thank you for helping me with this!