This weekend the Kootenay Orienteering Festival will be hosted in Kimberley and Cranbrook. This is the fourth time in 12 years that both communities have co-hosted a major orienteering event.
Event Director John Chatwin says that there are 154 registered participants, and there is still time to register on the day of the event.
“Most [participants] are coming from Alberta and BC, with some from Manitoba and the Pacific NW States,” explained Chitin. “We also have a handful from Europe and even one from Papau New Guinea. We also have over 50 volunteers and many local sponsors, who really make this event possible.”
The Kootenay O Fest, with two Orienteering races in Kimberley on Saturday and another Sunday, in Cranbrook, will feature both the BC and Western Canadian Championships, explained event organizer Jim Webster.
He adds that Kimberley will be host to a sprint race with all classes running under 2.5 km and a middle distance race of under 5km.
“The objective is to find up to 20 check points, along the course, in as short a time possible utilizing your navigation skills, a map and yes, a compass. No gps apps [are] allowed,” Webster said.
On Sunday, Cranbrook Community Forest will be the location for the long race with competitors running courses up to 10 km, as the crow flies, Webster says. Actual distance can be longer depending on [the] route choice.
The Kootenay Orienteering Club, which is the local club, is well represented with over 20 competitors in a range of age classes from 10 and under to 80 and over.
Chatwin says that those who wish to watch the races have a few different options.
“The best laces to watch would be in the clearing just off the bend in the road leading up to Forest Crowne for the middle distance event,” Chatwin said. “Racers will be roaring to the finish from about 2:45 to 5:00.”
Another viewing opportunity is at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook on Sunday in the sports field. There, long distance finishers will be running in from about 11 until 2:30.
When asked what his advice would be for those participating, Chatwin responded saying, “for experienced orienteers from the coast: you will find the higher elevation may tax your cardio, but the terrain is much more open than in other parts of Canada making cross country running a pleasure.
“For newcomers: there are eight different courses in ascending difficulty and distances. Start in courses 1-3, depending on your age bracket, and go slow and keep in touch with the map.”
He adds that participants couldn’t find a better location to compete in.
“The East Kootenays have arguably the best orienteering terrain in Canada with open forests, complex topography, and beautiful scenery,” he said.
There will also be holding a practice model event on Friday, September 6 and an awards banquet at the Elks on Saturday, September 7 in the evening.
Webster adds that there is limited space for late entries in some open categories for those wanting to give orienteering a try, either as an individual or a family. Check in takes place at the Elks Club from 3p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, September 6. $30 per entry, either solo or group. For all of the details and information on routes visit bcoc2019.ca.
“We really wish to thank the many local businesses that have supported this event,” said Webster.