Orienteering has been taking place continuously in Canada and the United States continuously since 1967. As we reach 50 years for our national organizations we can look back at many improvements in the conduct of orienteering events that have made the sport better, fairer and more interesting for the participants. Standardizing map colors, scales and symbols have helped take a lot of the luck out of our navigation. Symbolic control descriptions have helped when travelling in countries where we would not be familiar with the language. Electronic timing helps in so many ways.
So many orienteering practices of the past are long gone. Who remembers bringing a set of colored pencils to color in detail on your black and white map? Or remembers marking your course from a master map board? Some of our younger orienteers may not have experienced pin punching on a ‘control card’. How about when control flags were not nylon but were made of coated corrugated cardboard that could be folded flat.
And the old orienteering outfits: In my first years I usually wore a rugby jersey with woolen sweat pants. At one event the pants became so heavy with absorbed sweat that I had no choice but to take them off, leave them at a control and finish the race in my shorts. It must have been quite a shock when I ran in, shorts concealed by the rugby jersey!
Ah, those were the days! Did you think they were gone forever? Think again. As part of the Canada 150 Orienteering Festival Orienteering Ottawa will be re-staging three of the courses from the first Canadian Orienteering Championships held in the National Capital’s Gatineau Park back in 1967. Thanks to orienteering scrapbooks meticulously kept by members of DVOA the original maps and courses have been preserved and retrieved.
We ae calling the event Retr-O. See http://ottawaoc.ca/OFest/
As much as possible the map style, the control locations and descriptions are being re-created. Changing forest, trails and water features meant the map had to be re-drawn but it will be the same black and white at the same 1:20,000 scale. Some control locations are having to be moved to meet park regulations about distance from water features. However the legs will essentially be the same. The big concession to the 21st Century will be the use of e-punch instead of pin punch.
Participants on the three courses can try to beat British Olympian John Disley’s 1967 time of 2:06:09 or Patricia Skene’s 1:42:39 in the Elite classes or times for seniors Philip Cottel, Beattie Mackenzie and Irene Jensen.
All participants completing their course will receive electronic certificates attesting to their result and comparing it to the champions of nearly 50 years ago.
Hopefully other clubs will look for opportunities to dig out the old maps and re-create events of years gone past. It will give everyone a look back at the origins of our sport in your area. It will give club calendars a bit of added variety and members a chance to see how much forward our sport has come in the half century.