Table of Contents
Earlier articles can be found at news_archive.shtml
The Orienteering Canada site now displays a list of all past orienteering Canadian Champions. Orienteering began in Canada in 1968 with the first championship meet held at Camp Fortune. At that time there was just a men's and women's category. For many years the award was based on a two days of 'classic' length with total time and in 1996 the 'short' discipline was introduced. In 2006 the 'sprint' discipline was introduced and the 'short' renamed to 'middle'. Meanwhile the age categories grew to include full junior ages and 35+ in '73 and gradually up to the now 80+ age category and the 12 & under we have to date.
Through the years the Ottawa club overall and certain current and past club members have done very well.
The other day I was lying on the couch chowing down on a jumbo bag of Cheetos and watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island when my son Eric came up to me and asked if I would come outside to play in the woods. When Eric was eleven years old and a very keen scout, playing in the woods meant building shelters and lighting campfires, but now that he is 22 years old and an elite orienteer, playing in the woods is a completely different matter.
This year’s Gatineau Rogaine hosted by Ottawa OC was not my first attempt at this type of endurance race. I have run a Rogaine with my kids almost every year for the last 7 years but we have never managed to claim victory. The competition is always very tough and my pride too important to me (more about this later). This year Eric and I were on a mission to win.
Experience has taught us that preparation prior to the race is key. Hydration and nutrition are probably the most important components of any race strategy. We each carried about one and a half litres of water and between us we had 8 Gu Gels, 3 Power Bars, 2 Cliff Bars, 4 granola bars and four packs of electrolyte drink mix. In the 20 minutes allotted before the start of the race, we understood that it was critical to plan our route carefully; use trails as often as possible, minimize the climb, and climb early if possible. This year’s race had an urban component, so we decided to save it for last when the fatigue and cramping were sure to be a problem. To win the race we knew that our route plan needed to include all the controls on the map and if we ran out of time, we would just cut-off early and get back inside the 8 hour time limit.
James and Linda Connell were quite devious in setting the control locations for this year’s Rogaine. It was very difficult to plan an efficient route to all the control locations in the south west sector of the map. This section was entirely wooded and quite hilly. From the start, we went north around the pond grabbing control points (CP’s) 32, 36, 84, 50, and then back south to 37 and 54. That’s 293 points in 2.1 km with 35 metres climb; total lapsed time was 22 minutes. It was a good start to the race.
There were no obvious trail routes from 55 to 67 then to 74. The latter two were probably the most technically difficult control locations of the entire race. It is at times like this that it pays to have a teammate who is an elite Canadian Orienteer!! In spite of the 100 metres of climb and the technical nature of the terrain, we were still able to average 10.5 minutes per km (mpk).
The next 11 control points, 57, 79, 69, 60, 79, 69, 72, 33, 43, 58, and 64, were mostly road and trail runs but with four moderate climbs to CP’s 60, 33, 43 and 64, each about 50 metres. Total distance was 7.2 km with an aggregate 250 metres climb in 61 minutes. Average pace was a blazing 7.2 mpk. Our initial route planning really paid off in this section. It was also at this time that I conceded that I was the weak link in the team. I decided to swallow my pride and began to hold on to the back of Eric’s pack with one hand. He would pull me along on the roads and wide trails. This system was especially effective climbing up hills, including the road run up Pink! This simple arrangement made all the difference in the race.
At CP 64 we were two hours in and about 6.7 km from the next water station. The next 8 control points, 75, 83, 76, 47, 68, 51, 44, 49, required careful orienteering into the control circles and some extra grit up the steep 200 metres of climb. The first signs of cramping were starting to appear at this point, especially in my calf muscles. We bobbled the attack from the road into CP 83 but quickly corrected. We were able to maintain 10 mpk and when we arrived at the water station at CP 49 we took a few minutes to rest, popped a couple of gels and ate a Power Bar… I bloody well needed it!!
Fed and watered, hurting a little bit and three hours into the race, the next hour was going to make or break the race for us. Another 200 metres of climb over 6 km would take us through control points 78, 65, 86, 59, 42, and a road run to CP 80. Although we averaged just under 10 mpk, we stopped often to stretch out the legs and alleviate the persistent cramping. Eric was doing all of the orienteering at this point and I was concentrating on staying alive!!
CP 80 was a milestone because it was at this point that we started to head back south towards the finish line, albeit 24 km away. The next five controls were relatively easy for me. It seemed to be downhill most of the time and Eric was consistently spiking the controls. It took us 45 minutes to collect 45, 82, 87, 39, and 88. Average pace was just under 10 mpk. We had descended a total of 90 metres to Notch Road and in a way, it was almost a restful part of the race.
The next three controls, 62, 85, 52, were physically difficult. It included 90 metres of climb over 2.4 km. Cramping and fatigue were a problem and most of the running was through the woods or on narrow trails…thus I couldn’t hang on to Eric’s pack and let him pull me along. I was on my own! We were popping gels and eating Power Bars through this section just to avoid bonking. Our pace slowed to 11 mpk.
From CP 52 we went straight out to the trail to the water station at CP 38 and sat down and rested. We were five and a half hours into the race and I was exhausted. We took the next 8 minutes to plan the remainder of the course while eating and drinking. We had 16 controls to collect over the 15 km to the finish line and just over two hours to do it. We were feeling quite confident that we could finish with time to spare.
Refreshed, we knocked off control points 34, 53, 71, 56, 41, and 40 in 33 minutes at a blazing pace of 9 mpk.
The next three controls, 61, 70 and 31 presented some real challenges in terms of route choice. The area is primarily a giant gully with thick woods on both sides. We opted to run the trails along the top of the ridge to each of the controls rather than try to bushwhack in a straight line through the thick forest. The trails were very windy and the distances seemed long; interestingly, straight line distances between the CP’s was 2 km, but our total running distance was 3.8 km. Total time through this section was 35 minutes; unfortunately we had lost precious time here. That left us with an hour and 15 minutes to get to the finish.
We popped our last two gels at CP 31 and headed out on the remaining 10 km through the urban area of the map. Hard surfaces take a toll on the body and so this part of the race really hurt. We cruised through control points 30, 46, 63, and 81 but the road run to 77 was excruciating. We had run out of water and the only remaining food that we had were two granola bars which were too difficult to eat. The stretch from CP 77 to CP 66 was the lowest point in the race. In spite of hanging on to Eric’s pack, I was having difficulty standing up, my knees were starting to really wobble and I was becoming slightly delusional. My primary focus was not to stop running until we hit Saint-Raymond Blvd just one km away. With our best effort, we managed 6 mpk.
After we crossed the road, we decided to attack CP 66 straight through the swamp. It was awful. We had to hack and crawl our way through the extremely thick vegetation. Time was tight and there was no going back to the road to run an alternate route around the swamp and so we persevered. It took us almost 5 minutes to travel 250 m.
One control left to go, CP 35. Of the eight hours we had just over 10 minutes left to cover the final 1.2 km to the finish line. Piece of cake, right? Heck No!! I was on the verge of death!! It was too difficult to run or even jog. My legs were burning from the lactic acid, my feet hurt and the inside of my mouth felt like it was covered in a thick paste. We arrived at the edge of the parking lot about 200 metres from the finish line and heard Linda Connell call out “30 seconds remaining”. We had no choice, we had to run!
We arrived at the finish line with just a few seconds to spare. To our surprise we were the only team to sweep the map in 8 hours. The final stats for the race were 58 control points collected for a total score of 3433 points, total distance of 51.4 km with a total climb of 1 050 metres. The average pace was 9.3 mpk.
There is no doubt that Eric could have run the entire course alone in a much shorter time than it took us together. But Rogaine racing is a team sport and success is only measured by the entire team crossing the finish line. Eric literally carried his “old man” that day, and because he did, we are able to share one of life’s epic adventures together.
In a recent interview with triple world champion Thierry Gueorgiou, the Portugese Orienteering Blog wrote:
What would you say to someone who is starting in Orienteering?
T. G. - I think the most important, as I often say, is to dream. Having a dream and pursue it, is very important in terms of motivation. So, it might have a translation on a daily basis, depending on the size and scope of the dream. If the dream is to become world champion, you absolutely need to train daily with such commitment and such a desire corresponding to your final goals. There are no limits to dream. We have the case, for example, of this great little orienteer from Canada, Emily Kemp, who is part of our training group. It's true that, in Canada, Orienteering doesn’t have the expression that it has in France or in Sweden, for example. But her devotion is such that she begins to do great things and the results are appearing. When you dream and when you work to achieve the results, you can get there.
The Ottawa OC has a strong group of athletes that had many good results in 2011. This report just gives an overview and detailed results can be found on the internet. Robbie Anderson represented Canada at two World Championships, the Ski- Orienteering World Championships in Tänndalen, Sweden, and the World Orienteering Championships in Savoie, France. Robbie’ best result was 39th in the Ski-O Long distance event.
Emily Kemp, still a junior, was on the Canadian WOC Team and ran the sprint, middle and relay disciplines. The Canadian women's relay team, Carol Ross, Emily Kemp and Louise Oram, had a fantastic race and finished a best ever 12th place for Canada. In the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC2011) in Poland our club had two competitors, the sisters Emily and Molly Kemp. Emily finished her JWOC personal best 13th place in the long distance event.
At the Canadian Orienteering Championships (COC2011) in Whitehorse, Yukon, Robbie Anderson finished 2nd in both the sprint and long distance events. Ottawa O-Fest and Ontario Championships on the Thanksgiving weekend in Ottawa. Eric Kemp placed 2nd in the middle and Jeff Teutsch finished 3rd in the long Mens Elite. Alexander Bergstrom won M17-20 in all three events and won the Red course in the middle distance event. There were many good Ottawa results both in youth and master categories.
Many OOC orienteers participated in major events in the USA; the West Point, NY, and Buffalo, NY, A-meets, the US Team Trials at Blue mountain, NY, the US 2-day Classic championships at Syracuse, NY, and the US individual championships in Boston, MA. In the US Team trials Robbie Anderson was 2nd and best North-American in both the Sprint and Long distance races.
In the US Individual Championships Ottawa dominated the Sprint with runners in 3rd (Eric), 5th (Jon Torrance), and 6th (Jeff). In the middle event Eric was again 2nd and Jeff 9th, and in the long Eric was 3rd.
The Ottawa OC has a new Clubhouse! A big thanks to everyone who helped with this huge operation. Check out the behind the scenes footage compiled by Ian and Eric Kemp below:
For the past many (>20) years Bill Anderson has been storing the OOC equipment in his garage, later expanding to his own garden shed. Club members have been very industrious building equipment to support our major events, the COC's in 2010 and the Ontario's this last year. The board felt the time had come to relieve Bill of at least the equipment used only once a year. Club President Randy found a fully built large wooden shed available for a great price, arranged for it to be delivered to the Guttormson yard and with the help of many hands rolled it the 100 or so meters to its permenant home.
Many thanks to helpers Bert Waslander, Martin Schmoll, Liran Raz, Eric Teutsch, Anne Teutsch, Jeff Teutsch, Ray Bunce, Ian Kemp, Eric Kemp, Richard Guttormson, Lorna Guttormson, Randy Kemp, and Mark from Vic's Towing. Now Bill can get wife Gloria that extra gardening equipment she has been wanting for years.
Meet directors - not to worry, you still get to have that great chat with Bill when you collect standard local meet equipment.
Congratulations to all of the OOC members who competed at the US Team Trials this weekend which was also one of the final sets of races counting towards selection of the Canadian Orienteering Team to go to the World Orienteering Champs (WOC) in France in August. Jeff Teutsch, Alex and Stefan Bergstrom, Ian Eric Molly and Randy Kemp, and Robbie Anderson all represented Ottawa fantastically at the races. Friday was the sprint on a university campus in which Robbie dominated the North American men (Anders Tiltness, a visiting elite Norwegian orienteer won all three races by a large margin).
Above: Result highlights from the Men’s Sprint.
Right: Can you spot the winning route to 9? Click here for a larger image.
A hot Sunday morning at Blue Mountain Reservation played host to a fantastic long distance race in which Robbie was edged out of top North American by American Ross Smith who topped Robbie’s time of 1:42:20 by 14 seconds. Alex Bergstrom and Randy Kemp braved a very tough Women’s elite course to claim 17th and 19th place finishes respectively with times of 1:42:22 and 1:43:44.
Above a section of the Men’s Long Distance course. Click here for a larger image.
The weekend concluded with the Middle Distance on Monday , also at Blue Mountain, though this time in less gruelling heat! Robbie once again took second place to Ander’s stunning 29 minute and 33 second victory on the 4.4 km course. Robbie ran an amazing race with a time of 34:46, almost a full two minutes ahead of Canadian Wil Smith in third place but neither could come close to keeping pace with the Norwegian superstar. OOC member Jeff Teutsch also had a strong race placing 4th Canadian and 9th overall with a time of 40:33, one of his best ever results in international competition.
At right Jeff’s route on a section of the middle course.
With this weekend’s performance placing Robbie Anderson firmly among North America’s top orienteers he should be a shoe-in for a spot on the Canadian WOC team along with OOC’s exceptional Emily Kemp (racing in France last weekend). Ottawa’s Eric Kemp and Jon Torrance are also vying for spots on the 2011 Canadian Team. Good luck to them all!
Congratulations to medal winners at this year's West Point 'A' Meet from the Ottawa Orienteering Club. This was a 3 meet total time format with middle and sprint distances Saturday and long distance Sunday morning. First starts Sunday were at 8am - only with the military where there are many volunteers and if still needed, unlimited voluntolds can this happen.
Marketa Graham took first in the W45+ with a resounding 42 minutes ahead of her next rival.
Robbie Anderson took second place in a field of 44 very strong Elite competitors.
Bert Waslander also took 2nd place in his class - M65+
Tommy Graham was a bare 4 minutes behind the first place finisher in his M-14 class
Alexander Bergstrom took first place in the M-18 of 8 entries
Molly Kemp, who did not run the sprint to save her troublesome knee, took second place in the middle and first place, by 12 minutes, in the long of the W-20 class.
Shown in front of one of the more notable rock features in the campground, the size of many found through the middle terrain, is the OOC group.
Left to right, back, middle, then front are: Robbie Anderson, Robbie Graham, Jeff Teutsch, Brian Graham, Stefan Bergström, Jon Torrance, Richard Guttormson, Tommy Graham, Odile and Bert Waslander, Lorna Guttormson, Marketa Graham, Alex Bergström, Molly and Eric Kemp.
See more pictures in the photo gallery.
Early in 2010, the OOC Board of Directors decided, in honour of Pat de St Croix, that each year one event would be named the Pat de St Croix Memorial Event and proceeds from this event would be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. This year the Middle distance event of the Canadian Orienteering Championships was named and we are pleased to say that $640 has been donated.
Pat was a pioneer for orienteering in Canada and served as president of the COF for many years in the 1970's. She and Dick started the Niagara club and when they moved to Ottawa in the early 80's they provided boundless support for our club through mapping, clinics, and event management. Many of you will remember her as the person with the smiling face, always ready to help and welcome a newcomer, perhaps the person who greeted you when you first joined.
Pictured at right - Richard Guttormson, COC Meet Director, Christina Danielewaki, Canadian Cancer Society, Randy Kemp, OOC President and Lorna Guttormson, COC Meet Coordinator.
In the case of the COC long map - the Barrens and the Wellness Clinic - it was the map. Needing some trail structure for course one, and as a thank you to the Wellness Clinic for use of their land, Bill Anderson completed the map, then selected a 'scenic' route through their land for course one. Six hearty souls were out clearing the trail and putting up trail markers a recent Saturday and the small children of the centre's Learning Group have been out enjoying the chance to get deeper into the woods.
No, there are still no trails in the Barrens and there are no plans for any.
Our thanks to Shopper's Drug Mart for their support of the Canadian Championships. At the store opening at 181 Greenbank Road, Kamlesh Gandhi presented Richard Guttormson, COC 2010 meet director with a cheque for $2000 in support of the Canadian Orienteering Championships to be held in Ottawa this August. Also, representing OOC is Councillor Gord Hunter.
We truly appreciate all the support the local business community have shown for this event and hope we can show them what a great sport this is. Other major sponsors include Richcraft Homes, Trinity Development Group, Enbridge, Minto, Carleton University, Mattamy Homes, and Tamarack. Sierra Designs, Axis Gear, General Mills, O-Store orienteering gear, WGA Carto mapping services, World of Maps, Mountain Equipment Coop, Ashcroft Homes, Councillors Hunter, Bloess and El-Chantiry and Mayor O'Brien have all also contributed to this event.
As orienteers we (usually) know where we are going. But why do some people pick up on the skills immediately while others always struggle? Do we form cognitive maps or do we use stimulus-response, which is basically remembering landmarks?
Neuroscientists have found that our brains determine how we navigate but our navigation efforts also shape our brains. The November 2009 edition of Walrus Magazine has an article about research being done by Dr. Giuseppe Iaria at Calgary University on the neuroscience of orientation and navigation. An interesting read.
There is an on-line test at gettinglost.ca. It tests orientation, spatial memory and a series of other cognitive skills. Iaria is mainly studying those with very, very poor spatial orientation abilities but he also wants people with “normal” navigation skills to take the tests –as many people as possible. That sounds to me like a challenge to our members.
The test takes about 60 minutes to do (less time if your last name is Kemp) and must be done at one sitting so set aside enough time. There are 9 tests starting with simple recognition of shapes, then faces, then signs along a route. Test # 8 requires you to place 4 landmarks on a map. The average is 2-5 attempts. I expect everyone in the club to get 3/3 on test #9. Your results will be emailed to you within a few minutes of completion.
If you’d like to read the whole article, Walrus magazine is available at many Ottawa Library branches.
Most races I have competed in simply ask you to run from Point A to Point B as fast as you can. When running a marathon, that means it takes me nearly 4 hours to achieve my reward (Point B). That's a long time to go without any positive feedback. And what's the purpose of running from Point A to B in the first place anyway?
This past weekend I competed in an event that gave me more consistent positive feedback and a reason for running. This weekend the Ottawa Orienteering Club hosted a Rogaine Competition based out of Vorlage in Wakefield, QC. There was a 2hour and an 8 hour option. A Rogaine event involves being given an extremely detailed topographic map with a number of labelled checkpoints on it. Primarily using the map, but with a little help from a compass, racers are tasked with visiting as many checkpoints within the time limit as they can. Racers are responsible for choosing their own route and race strategy.
Given my aversion to training, I don't really possess a great deal of "run fitness" right now, so my partner, Sylvie D'Aoust, and I chose to compete in the 2 hour event. Likewise, all of Sylvie's fitness has come from cycling and has very few run miles on her legs. Once we received our map, we worked together to choose our route. We decided to warm up by running on the road to the furthest set of checkpoints at the south end of the Wakefield Village. There was one checkpoint that wasn't worth that many points out in that area and we decided to skip that one since we didn't think it likely that we would be able to acquire all the CP's anyway.
So we banged off our first couple of checkpoints, and then ran over the river and past the Wakefield Mill to the backside of the Vorlage Ski Hill. I was enjoying the running to this point, but running up a ski hill was a different matter for this near-Clydesdale competitor. Little Sylvie was skipping up the hill, while I laboured for every breath. But one by one, the CP's were located, our cards were punched, and we continued on. Fortunately what goes up, gets to come down! Now it was Sylvie's task to keep up with how gravity effected my mass!
With 20 minutes left we had one lot of CP's to check off on the far side of the Gatineau River. There are time penalties for finishing the course late, so we were going to have to hustle. First we waded through a marsh to grab the first CP, then it was up a small hill through a horse pasture to the next CP, then I took a good spill running back downhill on the slick clay and horses**t. Sylvie got a good laugh at that!
So at this point we had acquired all but the one CP we intentionally skipped AND one more that was located right behind the hospital which is just up the hill from the Vorlage Ski Resort. At the Vorlage parking lot entrance, the question was "could we run up the hill, to the hospital, find the CP, and be back to the Finish under the time limit?" (we had 7 minutes!).
I said, "Let's do it!" And off we went. After 1 hour and 53 minutes of running and climbing, Sylvie and I attacked the last hill, I concentrated on keeping my heartrate under 220, while Sylvie watched the time and counted down the minutes. We found the CP with no problem and sucked it up for the last 500 meter sprint to the finish. My tights were covered in burrs and Sylvies Goretex shoes were sloshing with water, but we made it in with 30 seconds to spare.
What a fun race! It was so great having a reason to run. We had to find the CP's as quickly as we could. The faster we went, the more CP's we could acquire, and the more points that would be awarded. And as it turned out, it was even more worth in the end as Sylvie and I won the co-ed category outright, and actually weren't all that far behind the solo male winners. And thanks to Bushtukah Great Outdoor Gear for sponsoring the event I went home with a great pair of socks, and Sylvie went home with a brand new headlamp.
So if you have trouble staying motivated during your runs, I would highly recommend you check out some of the Ottawa Orienteering Club events. This 2 hour event only cost me $20 (race day registration!). Had I wanted to compete for 8 hours it would have cost me $25. These fees are even less than I charge for the Mad Trapper events! Okay the post race food spread wasn't quite up to the Mad Trapper standards, but it was certainly better than any of the road races I have ever competed in. Check it out, the Ottawa Orienteering Club certainly adds a dimension of fun and purpose to running.
Oh yeah, and this is a bit off topic, but if you have a chance I'd really appreciate it if you could visit http://lowdownonline.com/photo-contest-oct/ and vote for Photo #7. It's a really cute pic I took of my buddy's 7 year old son gunnel bobbin' "au naturel" on the Gatineau River. If I win the contest, I'll be able to take him and his 3 sisters to the Camp Fortune Aerial Park when they come visit next summer. Thanks a bunch!
From August 17 to 21, 2010, Ottawa will play host to orienteers from across Canada, the United States and the world. We, here in Ottawa, will have the opportunity to see the best in the country compete for top honours as they run through our forests as if they were on a race track.. However, the championships are not just for the elite runners. Everyone is welcome, in fact, encouraged, to join us in the woods and experience the new maps and run in new areas.
We have been able to produce a number of new maps for this event, thanks, in part, to a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. These maps will continue to give us varied and interesting orienteering challenges after the championships.
This 5-day event will have something for everyone. On Wednesday and Thursday we will have fun, low key, events - perhaps a farsta , a relay, maybe a chase sprint. On Friday will be the first national competition, the middle distance event, held on a newly mapped area near the village of Carp just west of Ottawa. On Saturday, we are looking to have the sprint event at an exciting urban location in Ottawa. There will also be a low-key participation event at the same location for those who are non-competitive and want to just experience orienteering and be part of these days. Sunday will be the long distance event, either again on the Carp Ridge or in the nearby March Highlands area just north of Kanata.
We hope all members of the club will get involved in this national event, as participants and as volunteers, and show our fellow orienteers a friendly and helpful welcome. We may call on you personally to help out but don't wait for a call. Let us know of your interest and be part of the event. Send an email to and together we will find a way for you to become a part of the team.
This championship presents an opportunity for local and national businesses to be seen and appreciated. Sponsorship can be be an important source of revenue to help cover the costs or it can be 'services in kind' where a sponsor can donate supplies such as food and drink, map cases, port-a-johns, van rental, prizes, etc to help reduce our costs. If you have a business or you work for a company which may like to support this event, please contact , sponsorship chair.
F 15-16: "Like, what was it like when you started going orienteering?"
M 55- 64: "You mean back in the time before e-punching, before symbolic control descriptions, before the courses were pre-printed on our maps and before five-colour maps?"
F 15-16: "Like. I mean it must have been a different sport."
M 55-64: "On the contrary. From the time one began his navigation on a course until the check in at the finish orienteering has not changed much at all. It was then and is still based on the best time over a self-chosen route through (relatively) unknown terrain to a series of checkpoints. However what one does before and after the race has changed a bit."
F 15-16: "Like really?"
M 55-64: "Quite so. Right from how people were attracted to meets, things have changed. Before the Internet it was difficult to get the word around about orienteering meets. The club had to rely on getting notices in newspapers to let people know the sport even existed. Luckily the papers were pretty cooperative."
"There weren't as many local meets as we have today so we did a lot more travelling. All the meets seemed to have special names: The Guelph Spring Festival, Montreal and District Orienteering Championships (MADOC), the Ottawa Interclub and so on."
"Then when people arrived at a meet almost everyone seemed to need instruction. There were far more beginners than 'veterans'. The pre-meet clinics were very important and well-attended."
"Maps were given out at registration but the courses were not printed on them. Instead many participants would spend some time colouring in the black and white maps. They brought pencils to make the streams blue and the fields yellow. I think some highlighted the trails in red but I never bothered."
"Control descriptions were different, too. We didn't have those symbols so the descriptions were written out in English and French here and in the local language in Europe then mostly translated to English for the foreign competitors. That made for some funny translations. Once in Austria I saw that their edge of a cultivated field was the "Corner of Civilization". But even within English one person's gully would be another's small valley and another's re-entrant. And so on. I heard that one course setter with a poetic tendency listed a clump of trees as a 'Rising Green Island'. It had people shaking their heads at the image."
F 15-16: "Really? But I mean if the controls weren't marked on the map how did they know where their, like, controls were?"
M 55-64: After the participants started they would head to a 'master map' area to copy the circles on to their map. It was included in their race time. If anyone made a mistake and copied the circle in the wrong spot it was their tough luck. It was also considered important that participants did not make their route choices until their timing had started."
F 15-16: "Did you have different courses to run or did you all do the same course?"
M 55-64: "All the meets had the same four types of courses as we do at our B-meets now. However they were graded by colours -white for beginners, then yellow for those with a little experience, red and blue for the experts. It was quite a jump from yellow to red, believe me."
"The meets always had separate categories for age, gender and experience. A beginner would run the Novice Men's or Novice Women's Category. You would have been in the Junior Women's category and that would have included all girls 19 and younger. My category today would have been 'Older Veteran Men' but of course back then I worked my way from Novice Men to Men's B to Elite Men."
F 15-16: "Like really? How did you know when to change categories?"
M 55-64: "It was your own choice and depended on your own comfort level to move to a tougher course. That plus guys like Mike Day telling you to try a better challenge."
F 15-16: "Mr. Day? He doesn't look that old!"
M 55-64: "Not Mike junior. I mean the old Mr. Day. Forty years ago he was the guy to beat!"
F 15-16: "Well without e-punching how did they know what your time was and whether you had visited all the controls?"
M 55-64: "Good question. All participants were issued a control card. Part of it had to be turned in at the start and that was the record for the organizer that you were out in the woods. It also doubled as your time card that would be posted when you finished and your time was calculated by a volunteer by hand. Just as with some of our meets today each control had a distinctive punch that would be used to mark our card to prove we'd been there. What it couldn't do was prove whether the controls had been visited in the right order. That's where you had to be careful how the course was set, had to depend on the honour system or have a spotter in the woods to check cards."
"So sometimes there would be a backlog of times to be posted and there were almost always prizes - usually ribbons - to be had at the end of an event. That led to a lot of post race socializing which was really fun. All the orienteers got to know each other as we sat around, had picnic lunches and compared route choices." Then when the organizer was giving out the ribbons there always seemed to be a late finisher coming in. The biggest cheers were reserved for him."
"After the prize-giving many of the orienteers would head back in to the woods to help pick up the controls. I found that great as it helped me learn more orienteering techniques and practice finding controls that I had trouble with earlier. More people, especially newer orienteers should help with that nowadays."
F 15-16: "I think you are right but I have a soccer practice in an hour. Can we get going, grandpa?"
M 55-64: "Yes, but just let me tell you one more big difference between meets of forty years ago and today. I think it was because they called all the meets this or that championship or because we attracted more out of town participants but the newspapers gave our results a lot of publicity. I think it helped with awareness and I don't think it hurt with the 'come back factor' when someone could see his or her name in the paper as having won the Novice Men's race and the Ontario Championships."
F 15-16: "Is that the old clipping you have framed on the wall in your den?"
M 55-64: "Er yes, let's go or you'll be late for your soccer practice."
Thanks to 'Grampa' Gord Hunter
One evening in mid- August, 1968, a friend, Allan Gravelle, called me about an article in the Ottawa Journal on a new sport, Orienteering. The Montreal Orienteering Club was organizing the 1st Canadian Orienteering Championships at Camp Fortune on August 18 and conducting an Introduction to Orienteering clinic at Carleton University the next evening. I was unable to attend but Allan did and reported it seemed an activity worth trying and suggested we attend the championships and give it a try.
1st Canadian Orienteering Championships.
On August 18, 1968, Allan his son Shawn and I made our orienteering debut in the Canadian Championships. The event was held on the original Camp Fortune map. The Event Centre and Finish were at the XC Ski Lodge. Allan and I were members of the Ottawa Valley Track Club and thought we could easily handle one of the longer courses but the organizers insisted we compete on the 2.9 km Beginner Wayfaring course.
The Start was at the TV station at the top of the Camp Fortune Ski slopes. We were instructed that we must report to the Finish whether or not we completed the course. We thought we would blitz the course in 15-20 minutes and then try one of the longer ones. Then we were off to the 1st Control - Knoll, south side.
We had received some basic instruction on compass use, map scale and contour interval but nothing on distance measurement. We went barreling down the road from the TV station stopping every so often to peer in the woods to try and detect a knoll with a red/white marker. After 50 minutes we had still not located the control and were now closer to the Finish than the Start. We decided orienteering was not for us and headed back to the Start to hand in our control card. As we made the last turn towards the TV station a woman crossed in front of us, climbed onto a small hill at the side of the road and stopped at a red/white marker. We checked the marker number and, lo and behold, it was the one we had been searching for. The knoll was not more than 150 metres from the Start and, in fact, could be seen from the Start.
Re-energized at finding the control we continued and completed the course without further major problems. The 1st Canadian Championships results show the team of Allan, Shawn Gravelle & Colin Kirk placed 2nd in Junior Wayfaring in the time of 1:41:16 for the 2.9 course, overall 7th fastest of 17 groups competing in the various Wayfaring classes. At least 50% of our time had been spent searching for the 1st control.
On numerous occasions I have stated that if I had not found the 1st control that I would have given up on orienteering and never returned - I think Allan had similar feelings.
Three local orienteers: Michael MacConaill, Irene Jensen, (Viking Ski Club), and Pierre Brassard (Montreal OC) competed. Irene won the Senior Ladies and Pierre won the Junior Men category. Michael and Pierre are current members of OOC and Irene a member of Loup Garou
A Walk Down Memory Lane - Control #1 Re-visited
On May 3, 2009, I organized an event from the P7 Parking Area on Kingsmere Road, using an updated version of the Camp Fortune map. While hanging markers on May 1 my route took me close to the TV station - in 1968 two small wooden buildings, now a massive concrete structure surrounded by a 10 ft high chain link fence.
As I crossed the road winding downhill from the station I came face to face with a small knoll - the 1st control location on the 1968 COC Beginner course. I climbed on top and stood reminiscing for a few minutes. It suddenly dawned on me that fate had played a significant role in the careers of Allan and I. Although the organizers had instructed us to report to the Finish we had been on our way to report back to the Start. If we had gone to the Finish we would not have found the 1st control. If we had not found #1 would we have given up on orienteering? But as everyone knows - What if's are for losers.
In The Beginning - A Giant Leap Forward
In the month following the Canadian Championships we participated in three Montreal area meets at Oka, St Benoit, Morin Heights, always as Wayfarers on the Novice course - Allan with son Shawn and I with another son, Paul.
The final 1968 meet was the Ontario Championships in early October, near Kingston. There were only four categories: Senior Men, Senior Women, Junior Men, Junior Women. With no Wayfaring category we had to compete in Senior Men. In the space of 6 weeks Allan and I leapt all the way from Beginner Wayfarers to Senior Men category.
The championship was organized by Professor Jake Edwards of Queen's University. In addition to competing on my first Advanced level course the meet is memorable for a couple of other items:
A. The Start was in a tent. When your start time was called you entered the tent, copied your course from a Master Map then exited the tent through a rear door. Your time started from the minute you entered the tent.
B. Unique Control Descriptions. The first three control descriptions on the Senior Men course were:
We did surprisingly well considering our previous experience had been on Novice courses. I placed 7th (1:51:04) and Allan 9th (1:56:58) of 26 competitors in Senior Men - a 9 km course. The terrain was much easier than the Gatineau and Laurentian regions: few boulders or cliffs, less hostile underbrush, excellent visibility and many open areas.
I can't remember if Allan started before or after me and didn't see him until near one of the last controls, a fairly short leg in a hilly area. The control was between two hills with was a wide valley about the mid point - a large wide swamp filled most of the valley. The decision: "Do I go around on the left or on the left? Allan had taken a third option - straight through the swamp. He was in the middle of the swamp, up to his waist in water, slowly turning around and heading back the way he had come, taking care to keep his map dry and above water. I am quite certain my margin over him was gained entirely through his excursion in the swamp.
On the journey back to Ottawa from the 1968 Ontario Championships the first seeds were sown to start an orienteering club in Ottawa the next season. During the winter I received a job transfer to Montreal and when the 1969 season started I was a member of the Montreal Orienteering Club and Allan was on his own. He nurtured the seeds throughout the winter, planted the seedlings in spring 1969 and cultivated their growth until reaching maturity as a fully grown healthy tree and one of the most successful orienteering clubs in the country.
Due to health problems Allan has not been active in orienteering for many years; most OOC members have probably never met him or unaware of his contribution and involvement with the OOC. Without his efforts and dedication there may not have been an OOC.
From a Small and Humble Acorn a Mighty Oak Tree Grew
Orienteering was introduced to Ottawa in 1968. In 1969, Colin Kirk asked me to help him hold a clinic to raise funds to start a club in Ottawa. Gord Hunter came to the clinic and that started his orienteering career. An organizational meeting was held and the Ottawa Orienteering Club was off and running.
Our first event was a snowshoe meet at Pinks Lake. I set the controls out on Saturday and we had a two foot snowfall overnight. We cancelled the meet and set out in a four wheel drive truck to recover the controls. On the way, I phoned a radio station and asked to have the cancellation announced over the air. I listened to them broadcast that, "The Sunday Chinese picnic in the Gatineau Park is cancelled."
With the help of many volunteers, our club has a 40 year history of many successful meets and our members have met many great friends.
One of our friends was running an elite course in which I had set a control on each side of a beaver pond. He swam across the pond holding his clothes and map over the water with one hand. Once on the other side, he realized that he left his control card behind. He swam back, got his card, and swam back again holding the card over the water.
Another friend found his control and saw his nemesis looking for the same control. Not wanting to help his competition, he stood in front of the control until his competitor ran on searching for the control.
Two airline stewardesses arrived at one of our Gatineau Park meets wearing Sunday dresses and high heels. They read about Orienteering on their flight to Ottawa. I suggested that their shoes may not be suitable but they started out anyhow. They came back when they came upon a wet area on the way to their first control.
Our club invites orienteers to come to Ottawa and many of our members travel to meets in other cities. Barbara and I went walking a course at a major meet in the USA. A 16 year old boy ran up to us at one control just as we were walking away. He punched his card, ran past us, and caught up to us at the next control. He asked, "How did you get here ahead of me?" We just laughed and walked away.
I was running in a meet in Quebec when I noticed a lady and her dog running ahead of me. They were in an open area and the dog was a few feet ahead of her. Her dog turned right and ran into the woods. She followed her dog to the control!
Field workers are tempted to stay in the woods a little too long with the result that it gets dark before they get out. When this happened to me, Barbara called the RCMP to look for me! They searched the parking lots at Camp Fortune and called her to say that my car was not there. We called the RCMP when I got home.
At the end of one of our meets one couple had not reported in. We were about to start a search when we used their phone number to call and see if they were at home. A lady answered and said that they came home and then left for Toronto! Imagine our problem if no one answered our phone call.
Animals often add interest to our favorite sport. I set a novice course and walked it to make sure it was safe. I took the controls out a few days later and found a beaver had built a six inch high dam which flooded the trail! I had to put streamers out to guide competitors around this new pond. Everyone finished the race.
A meet at Camp Fortune was attended by a black bear and two cubs. The three bears climbed a tree a few metres from a control for the novice class. This control was within sight of the finish. I asked Colin Kirk to go and tell the competiors to go around that control. Even with Colin pointing to the bears and warning them, every competitor went in and punched that control! The bears left without causing further problems.
One of our international meets introduced us to Swedish customs. When our club held two of the five day Orienteering meet , we had one day at Meach Lake. Many of the 1,200 competitors came from Sweden. After they ran, they went swimming in the lake. It wasn't long before an RCMP officer came to me and asked me to tell the bathers not to use soap as it pollutes the water! I called the chairman of the NCC the next day to ask if there were any problems. He replied "Everything is fine except for the nude bums in our number one beach! I haven't had a complaint yet but I know I will be hearing from one lady before long."
Congratulations and Happy 40th Birthday to the Ottawa Orienteering Club
Barbara and Allan Gravelle
One of the beauties of the sport of orienteering is the seemingly endless variety of ways in which the sport can be practiced.
Part by chance, part by design since the end of our 2008 season I have been able to participate in eleven orienteering races, mostly local ‘B’ meets, in eight different US states. Not only were they different locations with different terrain types (and, for me, new maps which is always nice) but also the organizers were often putting new twists in the competitions presumably to add variety for the majority of participants who were in terrain that was otherwise very familiar to them.
For example in a very small forest in Connecticut the longer courses featured what they called ‘butterfly loops’. At certain controls the course would head in a two or three loop mini-course before heading back to the central control. There was not much route choice on these short loops but precise navigation and ‘control picking’ made the difference. It was a great way to add length to courses in a small area.
I witnessed an interesting twist on score orienteering in North Carolina. Again it was a small area that participants could have visited all possible controls in short order. The organizer borrowed from the billiard game of Snooker to come up with the twist. In snooker the players try to sink 15 red balls all worth one point and five other coloured balls, all worth greater value. Snooker players must sink at least one red ball each time before sinking a ball of greater value. So in ‘snooker-O’ the participants had to visit at least one designated red (or easy) control which were concentrated in the central part of the map before heading out to punch in at a more remote control location then come back to the central area before returning toward the perimeter even though the remote controls may be only two hundred meters apart. It took a lot of planning on the part of the participants to maximize the use of the one hour time limit.
In San Diego the club held a Valentine Score ‘O’ but instead of the loving couples running together they could split up so each could visit different controls to cover the area in minimal time. The obvious strategy besides concentrating the controls was to give the appropriate number to each partner based on their relative strength. I think results were based on the total points and time of the team. I think it could also be valid based on the time of the last partner back once the team had visited all the controls. What does Valentine have to do with it? Well they did give out chocolate 'kisses' and as they say, 'absence makes the heart grow fonder.'
Sprint Orienteering is becoming very popular in the States. It also allows the effective and interesting use of small areas and as there are fewer levels of courses participants can measure themselves against more others. But who is going to drive much distance for a 20 minute run? The solution: offer several sprint courses on the same map at the same time. Encourage the orienteers to run as many of the courses as they feel they can. Vary the start order, some starting on course A while others start on B or C. This idea is so good that I see our first meet of the year will be a multiple sprint event at Rockcliffe Park which is an ideal location for such an event. Hope you enjoy it.
Webmaster's note: Gord sent this earlier this spring but I was away at the time. Although some references are a bit out of date, the ideas in this article are food for thought. Also, the recent Almonte meet was run with the 'Butterfly' format.