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Original Issue

Babes in The Swedish Woods


In 1918 a Swede invented a game he called orienteering. It made pathfinders out of cross-country runners, and his energetic countrymen took to it like aquavit. With a compass in one hand and a topographical map in the other, they race against time through unfamiliar forests in search of a series of control points marked with small red banners. In recent years the craze has spread, and next month zealots from 20 countries will gather near Malmö for a five-day meet, like the one shown here, in which 10,000 orienteers divided into 40 classes by age, sex and expertise take to the woods. Says Catarina Bergström of Gothenburg (right), a former champion, "Even the best can run north instead of south."

A blonde Hungarian champion gives U.S. Marine competitors some basic training, but the advice sought by elderly contestants at a control point is considered poor form. On the last day, with all times computed, a winner gets a lift and a choir consoles the losers with a song.