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Orienteering challenge returns to Brandywine


In many ways, orienteering is the perfect competition, exercising both the body and mind as well as promoting team work. Sometimes called "cunning running," a combination of speed, logic, reasoning and proficiency with a map and compass are needed to win.

The sport of orienteering is becoming more and more popular, largely due to its own merits, but also as a result of the growing interest in adventure racing.

Most orienteering races are on foot, although more events are taking place that require skis and mountain bikes. One international speed event took place in a wooded area the size of a football field using a map where one square centimetre represented just five square metres.

It’s not in the Olympics, at least not yet, but there is a strong World Cup circuit, as well as a circuit of national, regional and recreational competitions for all ages and abilities. A total of 61 national orienteering federations are part of the International Orienteering Federation.

For the second year the Whistler area will be hosting the annual Brandywine Orienteering Challenge, a three-day event featuring beginner and intermediate workshops, a classic event, and a gruelling four-hour "Rogaine." You can go solo, in teams of two and four; male, female and co-ed. In addition, there are categories for beginners, intermediates, and advanced competitors.

"I definitely think more people are discovering the beauty of the sport, thanks to the interest in adventure racing," says Brandywine Challenge organizer Jackie Slavenova. "People want to the learn the skills of orienteering not just to have the ability to find their way around the woods, but to do it quickly, moving from A to B while being in control, saving energy, always knowing where you are."

Classic Orienteering, sometimes called cross-country orienteering, means participants have to locate control points in specified order. The winner is the participant who completes the course in the shortest elapsed time.

Rogaining, named after a brand name treatment for hair loss, is also called score orienteering. During a four-hour period, competitors will be challenged to find as many of the control points as they can. A good strategy always helps, as does the ability to plot your route around swamps, rivers, and other obstacles on the map.

The Brandywine area is particularly difficult, according to Slavenova. "It’s very challenging, some of most unbelievable terrain there is," she says. "It’s very technical orienteering, and full of natural obstacles. Naturally it’s beautiful, and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from participants in last year’s competition saying it’s one of the best orienteering events they’ve ever been a part of."

The Brandywine Orienteering Challenge 2002 kicks off at 10 a.m. on June 7 with workshops for beginners. Meet in the Brandywine Falls Parking Lot. There will be lunch available after the introductory session between noon and 1 p.m.

That afternoon, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., there will be an advanced training session on orienteering techniques and relocation.

At 5 p.m., registration opens for the competitions at the Cal-Cheak Forest Service Recreation site about 12 kilometres south of Whistler. Competitors pay their fees and receive bags and information. The cost is $35 for the classic event, $45 for the Rogaine, or $70 for both days. All pre-reigstered entrants (by May 30) will receive a free T-shirt, and race-day entrees will be required to pay a $5 fee each day. In addition, day care is available for $5 per day.

The classic event has a 4 km course for beginners, a 5.5 km course for intermediates, and a 7 km course for the advanced.

That night there will be a campfire technical meeting and a barbecue at the camping area.

On Saturday morning, there is a breakfast available, and between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. registration for competitors. The race starts at 11 a.m. and the sweep should have everyone in by 3 p.m.

There will be another campfire and barbecue that evening. If the weather turns, there will be a social event at Brew Creek Lodge.

On Sunday, the day begins the same as Saturday.

The team Rogaine starts at 9:45 a.m. and the solo event at 10 a.m. The course closes at 2 p.m.

During that time, competitors will try to locate more than 40 controls spaced out over a six square kilometre area. Ten of the controls are easy and worth 10 points, 20 are of medium difficulty and worth 20 points, and 10 are difficult and worth 30 points each.

Following the Rogaine, there will be closing ceremonies, awards and draw prizes for entries.

To pre-register for the Brandywine Orienteering Challenge, contact Ultimate Outdoor Adventures at 604-671-2931 or .

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