B.C. orienteering championships this weekend 

Beginner through elite categories available

By Andrew Mitchell

The sport of orienteering is sometimes called “cunning running”, as it combines physical exertion with mental concentration — two things that don’t necessarily mix.

Some of the top orienteering athletes in the province will be in Whistler this weekend as the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club hosts the B.C. Championships, although you don’t have to have any experience at all to take part in the events. Whether you’re an avid hiker, trail runner, adventure racer, or just like the idea of navigating your way through the woods using a map and compass, there will be something for everyone.

The weekend kicks off on Saturday morning with the short distance race at Myrtle Philip Community School. The short course will have 12 to 15 control points in a relatively small area, and there will be six different courses ranging in difficulty from beginner to elite. The fastest elite runners will come in at about 20 minutes, while beginners should take about 45 minutes.

“The short distance is hard because people tend to run faster, and that’s when they’re more prone to making mistakes,” said Martin Pardoe, a competitive orienteer who is helping to organize the Whistler events.

Registration gets underway on Saturday at 9 a.m., and there will be an introduction to orienteering at 9:45 a.m. before the event gets underway at around 10 a.m.

There is a staggered start for the event, with solos and groups scanning a wand at the start before heading out on course. The whole course is automated, and runners will scan the same wand at all of the control points and the finish line to get a total time. Racers also have to find the control points in order, which means planning ahead.

The maps are detailed, including contour lines and features, and all competitors will need the compass for is to orient the map so they know whether to turn left or right at intersecting trails.

The second race, a mid-distance competition, takes place in Lost Lake Park. Sign-on is at the beach area at 2 p.m. and there will be an introductory session at 2:45 p.m.

That course will take the top participants about 45 minutes, and the slower participants about twice that. Once again there are six different competitive categories.

“There’s such a great trail network in Lost Lake that you really have to look closely at the map to make sure you’re in the right place,” said Pardoe. “It really helps to know the Frank Zappa Trails so you can take shortcuts from place to place, which is an advantage for locals.”

On Sunday the long distance event will be taking place in the Brandywine area, with the start and finish at the Whistler Bungee bridge.

“The terrain there is pretty challenging, technically it’s difficult to navigate, and physically because the forest is so tight and there are all these rock slabs to go over and around,” said Pardoe. The top racers should finish that route in about an hour and a half.

There is no beginner category for the long course, mainly due to the challenging terrain.

Registration for the third day will start at 9:30 a.m. and the first racers will leave at 10 a.m.

People can compete in both Saturday events for $15, or in any one event for $10. Sunday’s race will be $10 as well.

For more information or a preview of the courses, visit www.orienteeringbc.ca/bcoc2006/Details.htm .

If you’re planning to take part contact Martin Pardoe at mpa@direct.ca so he knows how many maps to reproduce.

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