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All Welcome - O Cup Winter Orienteering Series kicks off Nov. 14

The popular Orienteering Ontario winter O-Cup Series kicks off next Saturday, November 14 with two races hosted by Stars Orienteering at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area near Paris, Ontario. These fun events are open to everyone including families and novices. We expect more newcomers than usual this year because of the surge of interest in navigation sports. Some folks are keen to learn after watching World's Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji on Amazon Prime this summer. Many others have been looking for COVID-safe outdoor activities.

Several O-Cup Series races are hosted by southern Ontario orienteering clubs at different locations from November to March. These winter races usually last up to 90 minutes and challenge participants to scramble through the snow, slide down hills and follow forest trails, all while using a map to navigate to checkpoints known as "controls" located around the race course.

You'll see some of Canada's top navigators in action and you'll also see others hiking the course - families with children, expert senior navigators and athletes from other sports who are practising their map and compass skills. Most events offer a Novice course. Newcomers sometimes choose to complete only a portion of the regular race course for practice. It's your adventure - your choice.

As an added twist, O-Cup races use an age/gender handicap system in an attempt to level the playing field for all participants. In short, this means that a college student will need to find more controls than her grandmother in order to complete the race course, and either one of them could win on a good day. Find out your handicap here.

Register online in advance and contact the organizers if you have questions about a specific event. This year there are some additional steps to increase safety, such as staggered start times and health declaration forms. Sadly, our usual post-race socializing and snacks will have to wait until next winter.

Detailed information can be found on the race web page or on the club’s Facebook page. If you have general questions, please write us at Orienteering Ontario at See you in the woods!

The Orienteering Ontario O-Cup Series races are hosted by member clubs

at different locations in the province through the winter season.   These winter runs challenge runners to climb hills, get through snow, along icy trails - all while using a map to navigate the terrain.

It's all about pushing your comfort zone … or to just enjoy the laughter

 after snowy face plants, and to share stories and post-race snacks with friendly fellow adventurers

and maybe have some winter fun with the kids – all before lunch!

If you own a Canadian uniform (toque, gloves and warm socks), then yes, you are ready. Newcomers are always welcome. You can try a Novice course or head out on the regular O Cup cours

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