The O Cup Series (formerly called the Thomass Series) has been going on for about 15 years. It started as a way to encourage juniors to keep orienteering through the winter so they wouldn't lose their skills. The handicaps were particularly useful to keep the juniors competitive. The Series has ended up playing a big role in making orienteering a bigger sport in the Ontario winter than it is in the summer. The idea from the start was to make the races fun - not super competitive. The handicap was supposed to level the playing field in an approximate way. We don't have the kind of information about racers that would enable the calculation of a golf-type handicap but this means that some races are won by juniors or grandmas, which makes it a little less predictable. After the full season, Series winners have been known to get a toque, chocolate bar or bottle of wine. :)
There were some pretty fast juniors out there! And a lot of fast folks of all ages. Any reason to get out in the woods is good by me!