Until this weekend, an orienteering race was never held on a Dalmatian island.
There was a race in the Diocletian palace in Split, which is in Dalmatia. And races on Mali Lošinj, which is a Croatian island, just not a Dalmatian one.
Now, last weekend, organizers from the Orienteering Club Maksimir finally brought orienteering to Dalmatian islands. Three races were held in (and around) Postira for the weekend, and over 180 participants from 7 European countries attended (Austria, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and Croatia)
Tomislav Kaniški, the main organizer and the person who drew the maps for the competition, told me that the idea to have the races originally came from Danijel Lacko, a well known Croatian adventurer, who told him about a part of the woods on Brač that were ideal for orienteering. This terrain is located in the area close to Vidova Gora, the highest peak on any of the Croatian islands, and two races were held at that spot. The get-together point and the finish line were located near the family-run restaurant and farm Gažul-Gospodnetić. Formerly it was a location for shepherds who brought their sheep to the high altitude during hot summer days, and these days it’s a restaurant where you can have the most authentic lamb dishes on Brač – and it’s an island quite well-known for exacly this type of meat.
But, let’s forget about the meals we had there and concentrate on the races. The timing of the event was chosen so that the three races are held on the long weekend, since most participants were from Croatia, and it’s not really that cheap to get to Brač, so it made sense to make most of it. What the organizers couldn’t anticipate was the rain. Now, of course, you can expect some rain in early October and orienteers are used to getting wet during races, but I don’t think anyone was really expecting that much rain. The races were held, both races in the forest were completely soaked, the third, final race that actually happened in the centre of Postira was held on Monday, in perfect early-autumn sunny weather.
Medals (made, of course, from the famous local Brač stone) were given in various categories, for the sprint (last day shorter event) and overall, and winners came from various countries, mostly Croatia but some from Sweden, Great Britain etc.
Participants, local community and the organizers were all very satisfied with the event, and there are plans to expand the maps and increase the number of participants in the future, and there’s even talk of organizing an orienteering camp on Brač. We can only hope that the plans will pan out, and that there will be other occassions to meet on Brač with other orienteering people – hopefully, with a bit less rain!