Orienteering returns to Brandywine 

Rapidly growing sport includes a day of training for novices

If you can run, think and read a map and compass at the same time then book off the first weekend in June to take part in the fourth annual Brandywine Adventure Challenge, two days of orienteering races.

And if you can’t do any of those things but would like to learn this quickly growing sport, the races will be preceded by the annual Learn-O’Challenge, a special introduction to sport orienteering.

The interest in sport orienteering has grown substantially in recent years as it is incorporated into more and more adventure races and continues to expand into new areas like mountain bike orienteering. It also has its own following among people who appreciate the sport for the challenge it presents, both physically and mentally – when you’ve been running the woods for an hour looking for control points, it gets harder to concentrate on your map and compass and think even one step ahead.

The Brandywine Adventure Challenge 2004 runs from June 4 to 6, starting with the one-day Learn O’Challenge on Friday at Brandywine Falls. You’ll learn how to use maps and compasses, gain practical experience on route finding and strategies, and learn to pinpoint your location from anywhere.

The beginner sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., and are followed by an intermediate course from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. After lunch the participants will take on a pre-set orienteering course, followed by a performance analysis and discussion. To take part meet in the Brandywine Falls parking lot, approximately 12 kilometres south of Whistler on the east side of the highway.

On Saturday, the Brandywine Adventure Challenge gets underway. This race is expected to last between six and eight hours and is open to solos, teams of two and teams of four, male, female and co-ed.

The format for the first day is a take-off on the Classic style of orienteering, where participants have to find all of the control points hidden in the woods and on the trails in the Brandywine Falls area. The twist this year is that the race will include elements of orienteering, trail running, mountain biking and surprise elements, like a true adventure race.

It is expected to take anywhere from six to eight hours to complete the course.

Day two is a Rogaine, which means competitors will have four hours to find 40 control points in a six square kilometre area, getting points for every control they find. The easiest control points are worth 10 points each while the most difficult are worth 30. The competitor or competitors with the highest score at the end of the four hours wins.

Onsite registration is available for both races between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. (9:30 a.m. on Sunday), and daycare is available to parents. You can also register online at www.uoa.ca.

All participants are able to win draw prizes, including an entry to the 2005 West Coast Adventure Race, a free entry into the Mountain Bike Orienteering Challenge for 2005, 50 per cent off the Sea2Summit Whistler race, and a free pass for a Thursday evening orienteering series in the Lower Mainland.

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