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
If you’re planning to take part contact Martin Pardoe at firstname.lastname@example.org so he knows how many maps to reproduce.