Friday, August 03, 2007

Canadian Orienteering Championships

The 2007 Canadian Orienteering Championships were hosted by the Saskatchewan Orienteering Association. I helped out with the web site, map printing, and at the event.

Considering it was one of the first events of any kind put on by the fledgling SOA, it went amazingly well. Of course, we could not have done it without the help from experienced people in other provinces who worked on the maps and course planning and helped officiate.

It was a bit of an eye opener for me - these folks are extremely good at what they do. I guess I should have expected that since they're some of the top competitors in Canada. I helped plan the night course. (It wasn't a world ranking event so we didn't have to bring in the big guns to plan it.) I would not have believed anyone could get all the points (it was a score competition) in an hour. Even knowing where they all were, I don't think I could visit them all in an hour, even in the daylight!

After the sprint event was finished I ran one of the courses with another volunteer (Tony Nadon). We got the fastest time on the course we ran, but it was the second easiest course (aimed at kids and grannies) and we had the advantage of knowing the university campus where it was located. And I still managed to mis-punch one control so technically I didn't finish :-(

I also helped check some of the courses the morning before the events (just to make sure the flags were still there - they had already been checked by experts for location). The first day I checked the third easiest course (out of 10). I assumed it would be quite "easy" and, overconfident, proceeded to thrash around quite embarrassingly. I took an hour and a half to get through a course that had a winning time of about 30 minutes by a 15 or 16 year old. I thought I did better the next day, only taking an hour to check the two easiest courses. The first was won by a 12 year old girl in 25 minutes, the second by a 13 year old boy in 23 minutes. My ego was only saved by telling myself that I had to check two courses (albeit mostly overlapping) plus a several extra points from harder courses. My last experience out on the courses was picking up a bunch of points after the events were over. This time felt a little better. I was more careful and paid more attention to the map and route selection and managed not to get lost at all :-) But I also didn't set any speed records!

I think part of my problem is I'm not used to the quality of maps. That sounds funny - shouldn't a higher quality map make it easier? But when you're used to working with out of date, inaccurate 1:50,000 topo maps, you don't get in the habit of relying on the map too much. Just to give you an idea how different the maps are - the 1:50,000 topo has two contour lines in the whole Ebs Trails area, as opposed to literally thousands of contours and other features on the orienteering map, down to the level of individual trees (just distinct ones - not every tree!). Once I learned to a) trust the map more and b) really use the information on the map, then it started to go better.

On the positive side, one of our local people (Jeff Dmytrowich) entered the middle and long events and got the fastest times on his course on both. That was on an easy to moderate course, but still impressive, considering it was his first actual orienteering event (as far as I know), and everyone said it was some of the most technical, challenging orienteering around (due to the nature of the forest and terrain).

It's too bad Jeff was the only local person to enter. This was partly due to most of the keen people volunteering instead of entering and partly due to people being scared of entering a national event with little or no experience. Although, orienteering seems to be one of the few sports where a national competition isn't limited to the elite.

Now that the event is over, I can get back to finishing the planning for this year's Prairie Pitch!


  1. Andrew,one of the organizers of that event was in at the Kokannee Cabin with us in March - he was actually working on it at the hut and was looking forward to going to S'toon - name was John, but that's all I can remember.

  2. Maybe John Rance. He planned the sprint courses on the university campus. He was telling us how his roof carrier was full of orienteering stuff, plus two ice axes! (They had been hiking around Lake O'Hara.)