Ultimate Outdoor Adventures, the organizers of the Brandywine OChallenge orienteering competitions, are hosting a first for Canada next spring on the Sunshine Coast the Canadian Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships.
Mountain bike orienteering is not new, but in recent years has become one of the fastest growing aspects of the genre. It combines mountain biking and navigational skills, as competitors race to one control point after another using a map and a compass, seeking out the fastest route through a complex of trails.
"Mountain bike orienteering is unique because it combines the athletic skills of mountain biking with the strategy of orienteering," said Jackie Slavenova, president of UOA and a veteran of competitive orienteering. She is also the course designer for the popular Sea2Summit race.
"Traditional athletes from either camp, biking or orienteering, are excited by the challenge of it. The biggest challenge is to think faster than you ride."
There have been mountain bike orienteering races since the 1980s, but it hasnt caught on in North America until recently. With the creation of a Canadian Championship, Canada becomes the 12th country to host a national championship. The announcement also comes on the heels of the first ever World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships, held in Fontainebleau, France, in early July. The next is scheduled for Australia in 2004.
Some 27 countries were represented at that event, by more than 200 competitors.
The Sunshine Coast event will follow the World Championship format with a long distance event, a sprint event and a three-leg relay race. There will be both mens and womens competitions, as well as categories for masters and juniors.
"Mountain Bike Orienteering is a natural sport for this area," said Slavenova. "It gets you outside, into the mountains, and it exercises both the body and mind. We want to give everyone a chance to try it."
More dates and details will be available in the fall, as well as a chance to register for the event. Visit www.uoadventures.com for updates.