miércoles, 3 de agosto de 2016

An interview with Lard Palmqvist, relay silver medal at the 1985 World Championship, after his participation in the Fourth Night Orienteering Run at Sa Coma, Majorca, Spain

After the Fourth Annual Night Orienteering Run at Punta de n’Amer, at Sa coma, Majorca, Spain, rumours spread that a renowned international orienteer had participated, sweeping to victory among the senior participants. 

Here, in Majorca, we are not used to receiving visitors of this calibre and I got in touch with him right away. He is Lars Palmqvist, from Sweden, relay silver medal at the Bendigo, Australia (1985) World Championship and eighth individual position at the World Cup in 1986.

Palmqvist, Stockholm, 1986

After further investigation, I discovered out that Lars loves orienteering and cartography – with almost 3400 maps of races and training sessions all over the world published at the database OMAPS: Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia. Spain, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Morocco, Cyprus, Israel, Australia…

It is clear that orienteering and travelling form a way of life that Mr Palmqvist enjoys, and many of us envy.

We take advantage of his visit to Majorca to participate in the night run to ask him some questions and learn from such an experienced person.

What places have impressed you that you would like to recommend as places to practice orienteering?

As terrain differes greatly in different parts of the world, its important to visit as many places as possible to broaden your knowledge in orienteering. ! Early June we went to Donostia and the area of Urbasa (in Navarra). Unbelievable pretty place with unique maps- will be back!

But generally the woods around Stockholm are excellent forests to learn the sport.

What countries are on your list of “pending tasks”?

In the end of august we´re going to Ibiza, but I’m unsure if there’s any orienteering’s activity there. I have been to Morocco some times, and run in fantastic forests near Agadir and Ifrane, unfortunately not mapped yet. Greenland is another place that said to be great.

Can you share any anecdotes with us?

That must be planning this summer’s trip to Mallorca, in the last minute I found this night orienteering at Sa Coma. My wife replied; “If someone is supposed to find an orienteering event in Mallorca in the middle of the summer, it’s probably no other than you”

On your personal website there is a large file of the maps that you have used since 1971. It is astonishing the way in which you have papered the walls in one room with orienteering cartography. Are you a lover of cartography? Have you drawn maps for competitions?

Yes, Il love all kinds of maps and I’m able to study one map for al long while. It’s a good way to be a better orienteer. I have done some smaller maps but not that many. It’s good to do this field work though, as it makes you a better  understanding of how a mapper thinks.


The advent of new technologies in cartography and the ready availability of geographical data have increased the amount of detail resulting in cluttered maps which increase precision but hamper readability. Do you think this is a positive development for orienteering maps? Should the orienteer who is in training devote more time than before to reading and understanding maps?

I´ve always loved detailed maps. Though, when you get older and the eyesight gets worse, it gets harder to read the map. Good then to get greater map scales, like 1:7500.

I really like the development with laser data and that its getting more available. Ground material is the better and the finish product/map is more exact. To learn orienteering I think it’s important that the map is fairly new so details like paths and other details are correct.

Orienteering was rejected as an Olympic sport in Rio Games 2016. Do you think that Olympic status is a feasible goal in the future? If orienteering had been Olympic, would you have liked to participate, representing Sweden?

It would be great if orienteering went to be an Olympic sport. If it had been on the program in my most active years I certainly would have loved to participate. For most Olympic centers there´s possibilities to arrange orienteering events, especially now when sprint has evolved.

In the past we used to talk about short and mid-distance modalities. Presently we mention other types such as sprint, micro sprint, night, score, shopping mall among different ways of orienteering. What is the current trend in the evolution of this sport? Do orienteers need new experiences to reinvent orienteering in new ways which are more enjoyable and suitable for general audiences?

New forms of orienteering bring possibilities for other groups of competitors and interests media. Myself though, prefers difficult, classical forest orienteering.

How do elite orienteers train for their participation in a world championship?  How did you train in 1985 when you won the silver medal in Bendigo? 

To be able to succeed at an international champs you have to train hard during several years and in as varied terrain as possible. Before a championship you have to train specifically in comparable terrain types. Australia is a long way from Sweden, but we went ”Down Under” 3 weeks some months before the World Championship, and then some weeks next to the races. That year I trained 600 hours effective running/orienteering.

From an early age, North European citizens learn in school how to orienteer. On the news we can see the Danish crown princes participating in orienteering races. Orienteering is a part of education and daily life, and that is inconceivable in today’s Spain.   What is like to experience orienteering as part of your education and your everyday life?

Orienteering is a small part of the sport education in the school and Military. If the teachers (as always) are skilled it’s good for the sport. But overall the most important thing is the new beginners’ courses in the clubs, both for youngsters and adults. Governments support to a certain extent this activity.

Telemark in Norway

You took part in the Fourth Annual Night Orienteering Run Punta de n’Amer in Majorca. What was your experience like? How did you learn about the event? How could this event be improved in future years (maps, route, organization…)?

When I’m going on holidays I always search for maps or competitions nearby. I checked  www.fbdo.es and found the event. 

During the competitions I felt strong, but ran faster than I read the map!! Had difficulties with the sight and took to many chances. Missed about 20 minutes and that’s a lot for me! Really fun competition, though! So nice to see small children with headlights who probably not have done that much orienteering! Great to be able to register on the spot. 

Could have been a greater map scale for us old guys and thicker and clearer marking of the control rings on the map! Very nice beach and surroundings at the competition center!!!

Majorca receives a great number of tourists from Northern European countries where the practice of orienteering is more common. In fact, Majorca has areas ready for the practice of this sport at touristic sites such as Sa coma and la Punta de n’Amer or Cala Agulla at Cala Ratjada.  Might tourists coming from one of those countries make their holiday choice based on the availability of orientation activities or permanent circuits? How could federations, clubs and political institutions promote orienteering tourism in Majorca?

The market for sport tourism is great right now, with a lot of orienteers already visiting Mallorca to for cycling or trekking. Not many know that there exist maps at all - so make use of the most frequented orienteering sites of the internet. 

Make it easy to buy and run on permanent courses. You can also advertise for orientation in Mallorca on major events in Europe, such as Oringen and other multi-day competitions.

We are extremely grateful to you for answering our questions, and we hope to meet you the next time you participate in some orienteering race in Majorca very soon.

Interesting links:

File Lars Palmqvist’s OMAPS file

Personal website:


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