Navigating the North

The 37th annual Western Canadian Orienteering Championships will be held in Whitehorse and surrounding areas from July 3 to 5 of this year.

This event comes to Whitehorse once every four years, and represents the best orienteering of the year. The events are typically held on exciting, brand new maps — so it is a fresh challenge for everyone.

There are three different events: Sprint, long, and middle distance races.

The sprint race will be held in the Takhini neighbourhood of Whitehorse: a mix of residential, school grounds, and forest terrain.

The long distance race will be held at the Gunnar Nilsson & Mickey Lammers Research Forest, 20 kilometres northwest of the city centre. This is a great new area for the long distance race, because it includes a variety of vegetation types and landform complexities.

The middle distance race will be held at the Long Lake north area, one of the most awesome, technically challenging orienteering areas in Canada.

So what is different about these events compared to a regular Wednesday evening meet?

Simply put, it is the very best orienteering event you are going to get for a long time. Areas with brand new orienteering maps, high quality courses that will challenge you, pre-printed maps, and well-organized, fun orienteering.

For local orienteers, there is a choice of competitive or recreational categories. You can choose a recreational category just like regular orienteering events, or if you want an extra challenge, choose a competitive category and test your navigating skills against other orienteers of your age and ability.

Orienteers are coming from BC and Alberta to try the challenge of orienteering in the Yukon. There will also be international visitors including some from Sweden — the birthplace of the sport.

As part of these events the challenge is increased because you don’t get to see the map until you start. Everyone gets an assigned start time. When the clock counts down to your start time, you turn over your map and…surprise! You see the map and your course for the first time.

You will also get to see some of Canada’s top orienteers compete. For the elite racers, all three events are Canada Cup races. The sprint event on Friday evening will be a particularly good opportunity to see the fast orienteers racing through the neighborhood. The middle distance event is even sanctioned as the world-ranking event for the elite categories. So the elite runners will be vying for improvement in their international standing.

There is still time to sign up for any or all of the events. Go to the Yukon Orienteering Association website at for more information and links to the registration page.

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