The History of National Orienteering Week

Until 2008, National Orienteering week was known as Orienteering Week In Canada (OWIC). The idea began in 2004 when the Calgary orienteering club (FWOC) held a club championships week – three different races (middle, long, and sprint distances) and an end-of-season awards party. This event was a tremendous success and news of it spread over the internet. Several other clubs expressed interest in holding similar events and as the discussion grew nation-wide, the Big Idea was hatched to hold as many club championships as possible across the country at more or less the same time.

It was agreed that in 2005 Orienteering Week in Canada will take place September 21 – 28. Clubs taking part included Yukon, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Guelph, Ottawa, and Hamilton and several others. Not all clubs are able to hold events on exactly those dates due to prior commitments and will be a week or two earlier or later. The format of the races will vary depending on what is most appropriate for particular clubs. Generally the schedule includes a middle distance race, a long distance race, and a sprint followed by an awards party, though some clubs held just one or two of these races due to volunteer availability.

There are many reasons to be part of OWIC. The Calgary club found their club champs got lots of people very excited about orienteering. It got “city park only” people doing competitive orienteering and really enjoying it. For many it was the first time using ePunching, running at intensity, and having exposure to the best quality forest maps. Furthermore it provides an event with a certain appeal to the media, if we are interested to pursue that to raise the profile of orienteering. And most of all, OWIC links the Canadian orienteering community through a common nation-wide project.

The United States Orienteering Federation has successfully organized a National Orienteering Day (NOD) for several years now – over 72 clubs take part and they get good media coverage. Check www.us.orienteering.org/NOD.html for more details.