Orient yourself this spring

The Yukon Orienteering Association is heading for another busy season for everyone. This includes beginners on up through high-speed racers who can…

The Yukon Orienteering Association is heading for another busy season for everyone.

This includes beginners on up through high-speed racers who can follow a contour in the dark.

So, what is Orienteering, you may ask.

In simple terms, it is a sport that combines fitness (how fast can you run through the bush, or on a system of trails) and map reading skills.

Orienteers navigate their way around a preset course as quickly as they can, using a map and compass.

Choosing the fastest route between points on the map can save you time in a competition. Or, choosing the more scenic route between two points can add to your pleasure on a Wednesday evening event in your neighbourhood.

The season starts with a Learn to Orienteer event on Saturday, April 28 instructed by members of the association.

The Learn to “O” workshop will introduce newcomers to the sport and teach some basic skills that will allow you to come out to a Wednesday night meet.

The workshop begins with a map walk where participants learn how to hold the map, and get a sense of relating the terrain beneath them to the map in their hands.

Simple route choice skills are also taught and an introduction to compass work as well.

In the afternoon, participants will complete one or two short courses to put it all together.

Pre-registration is required to ensure an excellent student-to-instructor ratio. For more information and to pre-register please call Barbara at 668-2306.

The association’s junior training program begins on Wednesday, April 18th with registration at Sport Yukon 5:30 to 7 p.m. The first junior practice session takes place the following Wednesday, April 25.

This program is for young people ages eight to 19. Those under 10 will need a parent to accompany them to each training session.

Experienced and skilled coaches are running the junior program. They aim to teach the basic skills in a fun way, and promote physical activity in the outdoors.

A goal of the junior program is to give kids the skills and physical conditioning they need to compete in the courses for their age categories at the Canadian Orienteering Championships.

Orienteering activities in the Yukon have been ongoing for more than two decades.

The territory has become the envy of the country for those who seek challenging terrain and a variety of landscapes — from open forest and meadows to mountains and unavoidable creek crossings.

The 2004 Canadian Orienteering Championships event held in Whitehorse was attended by orienteers of all ages from across the country.

Whitehorse boasts more orienteering map sheets per capita than any other city in Canada.

This year the association plans to expand map coverage beyond the Whitehorse area; stay tuned for orienteering events in your neighbourhood.

Following the annual Learn to Orienteering Clinic on April 28th, the association will be celebrating Orienteering Week in Canada.

The celebration starts with the Downtown Sprint on Wednesday May 2nd, a meet at Grey Mountain-Magnusson trails on Saturday May 5th and a meet at Long Lake on Sunday May 6th.

The fifth annual school challenge for orienteering is May 14. Each year this event introduces the sport to over 200 kids in Grades 5 through 7 from Whitehorse schools as well as some rural schools.

This event is co-ordinated by Ross Burnett, the Active Living co-ordinator for the Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon.

The first regular meet this year is May 16 at Miles Canyon. Events will be held on alternate Wednesdays after May 16.

Check the Yukon Orienteering Association web site address http://www.yukonorienteering.ca/ for a list of events, or watch for coming events in this newspaper.

The Whitehorse Adventure Run (W*A*R) will take place on May 27.  W*A*R is a long distance run (approximately 20 kilometres) that is undertaken by competitors in pairs, with some simple navigation and surprise challenges.

It would be an excellent tune-up for those interested in adventure racing or a new challenge for those runners out there.

If 20 kilometres sounds too long, try P.E.A.C.E., a gentler, kinder, 10-kilometre version that can be done individually.

Check out the Yukon Orienteering Association website at http://www.yukonorienteering.ca/events/WAR/war.htm for more details, and to view pictures and results from last year’s event.

You may ask how all of these events can happen in a short season. Volunteers are the key — from setting up courses and running events to teaching beginners the basics of the sport.

The other key support for the association comes from membership fees and funding organizations. Membership fees are a bargain, and have not increased in over a decade.

Families pay $40 for the season, adults $20 and juniors $12. Membership is not required if you want to take part in an event, but your event fee is much reduced if you sign up for a season membership.

Funding organizations that support YOA activities include the city of Whitehorse, Government of Yukon’s Sport and Recreation, and Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon.

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