Analysis of Canadian Orienteering Championships Winning Times to Determine Age Group Course Lengths for Course Planners

The Canadian Orienteering Championships (COCs) have evolved considerably since their introduction in 1966. The COCs started as just the two-day classic event. By 1973, the COCs added the 1-day short event, becoming a 3 day meet. In 2006, the COCs became three races with the introduction of the sprint event. The two-day classic became the one-day long distance event and the shorter distance race was renamed the middle distance event. The sprint event tended to be more an urban event while the other two remained wilderness centred. At that time, age groups at the COCs were F/M 12, F/M 13-14, F/M15-16, F/M 17-19, F/M 20 -34, F/M 35-44, F/M 45-54, F/M 55+ and F/M 65+, though some events had 5 year age groups above F/M 35 depending on the number of participants.

In the 2010’s, the age groups were redefined. The female and male elite category was increased to 21 to 34 with F/M 17-20 covering for the younger group. The Sport category was added for non-elite racers in the F/M 21+ age range. The youngest age group became F/M 11-12. F/M 75+, 80+, 85+ and 90+ classes were added. In 2017, F/M 17-20 was split into F/M 17-18 and F/M 19-20 and sport options were added for the younger racers also. Sport classes were not illegible for Canadian Championship medals and generally ran on a course 1 or 2 below the competitive age group. In 2019, F/M 10 was added.

Courses are designed so the winning time of a Canadian champion meets the Recommended Winning Time (RWT). This methodology applies even if there are no entrants in the competition performing at that level. There are several ways to calculate the distance necessary to produce the RWT. Results from previous events on the same, or a similar map, provide a general idea of required lengths, but must be used with caution, considering the following:

  • Was there more or less than an average climb? British studies suggest 100 meters of the climb is roughly equivalent to one kilometer of flat running. This means that Courses with much more or less than the average amount of climbing will have to be adjusted.
  • Were the Courses technical, or did they include more high-speed running on roads or paths?
  • Were top-ranked competitors present or absent?
  • Were there unusual detours, such as lakes, cliffs, freeways, or other impassable areas that added significantly to the actual distance competitors traveled?
  • What was the season? Was the vegetation unusual because of a wet spring or a recent blow-down? Was the weather unusually hot, cold, or rainy?

If after considering these factors, the results are close to the RWT, the lengths of previous events provide a useful guide. Download this document to read an analysis.