new to orienteering?

On this page we try to explain the Barebones weekend in a beginner-friendly way. We hope this answers all you questions and convinces you that you will have a good time at the Barebones races. Please feel free to contact Adrian ([email protected]) for more information if you need it.

Clinics & Training

Friday 4pm: Adult training at Rafter Six.

Free training at the advanced level. Some controls have been placed in the forest near Rafter Six. Orienteering maps showing the control locations are available for free people who pre-register. This is a self-training event with no instruction, and no safety or first aid provided. To take part you must register for Barebones online and then email [email protected] to arrange to get a map (easy pickup in Canmore).

Friday 7pm: Adult training clinic at Canmore Nordic Centre, Day Lodge.

Free training for beginner adults. A free one hour clinic introducing the basics of orienteering including map interpretation, navigation strategy, race logistics. Meet at the Day Lodge at 7:00pm. No pre-registration required.

Saturday 9:20am: Basic introduction clinic at Canmore Nordic Centre.

Basic introduction to orienteering for first-timers. This will be similar to the Friday evening clinic, but shorter and it will cover less material. If you are running in the "Centre-to-Centre" race at 10am, then you should meet at Lion's Park at 8:45am, wearing your race clothing. At 9:00am you will ride on the shuttle bus to the Canmore Nordic Centre. The clinic will run for about 30 minutes and then you will have a short break before starting your race. The race starts at the Canmore Nordic Centre and finishes at Lion's Park (where hopefully you will have left your car and post-race clothing and snacks).


Barebones uses a mix of age-categories (for experienced orienteers) and "ageless" categories. You can check the combinations of technical difficulty & course length for each category on the Barebones 2012 main page). 

Our recommendations


For parents who wish to shadow their children, please note that shadowing is free - you just need to pay for the child. Pay race entry fees for the adult only if you will be racing yourself.


There are three races during Barebones. You can take part in any or all of them. Each race has a different "feel" - the first is high speed with lots of controls, the second is long and physically tough, the third is the most challenging navigation.

Start times

Orienteering races are generally "time-trial" format events, with a one or two minute interval between runners on the same course. If you pre-register you will get an assigned start time for each race. If you register on the day, then you must go to the start, and the start chief will assign you a start time there – you may have to wait several minutes for a gap in the start list.

Kids Fun Zone

Each race will have a Kids Fun Zone at the finish area, with free orienteering games for the kids.

Race #1: Saturday 10am: Centre to Centre race.

This is a short race (2.5km straight line distance) with lots of controls. Some of Canada's national team athletes will be racing with us this weekend and we expect them to finish in less than 15 minutes. However, most normal people will take around 30-45 minutes. There is a 60 minute cut off.

Kids' fun zone – there are kids' orienteering games organized at the finish area in Lion's Park

Race #2: Saturday 3pm:  Canmore Nordic Centre race.

For the adults this is a long race with considerable climb, with courses designed to test endurance and stamina. For kids it will be quite similar in length to the morning's race, although the terrain will be very different – instead of a race with mostly downhill running, this afternoons race will have some climbing. The course will start and finish at the Day Lodge and will take place mostly in the hill above the Day Lodge and the area around the biathlon range.

Kids' fun zone – there is a little labyrinth orienteering course set up at the finish area by the Day Lodge

Saturday 6pm: Canmore Nordic Centre pasta dinner

A good chance to visit with other runners and discuss the day's races and route choices, the great check points you did and the classic errors you made too. The dinner will be followed by a presentation – probably by the some of the Canadian Junior team about their racing in Europe last summer. This is interesting for both adults and kids.

Race #3: Sunday 9am: Mt Yamnuska.

The orienteering map at the base of Mt Yamnuska is renown as one of the most enjoyable places to orienteer on earth! The mix of small hills and depressions creates an intricate mess of contour lines, which combined with lovely open forest and glorious mountain meadows makes for a great adventure. For the adults this is a "middle-distance" race which means that the course is designed to test navigation and map interpretation. In other words, quite complex map reading. For the kids this will be an interesting change from the dense trail network at the Nordic Centre – the kids will be following some interesting man-made linear features such as fences and power lines, with lots of check points along the way. Park one the Exshaw landfill access road. Port-a-potties are at the parking area. The start/finish is about 600m walk into the forest – so pack up a backpack and bring all your gear and snacks and drinks with you.

Kids' fun zone – the Calgary Juniors are organizing a "Super Sprint" as a fund raiser. They will have a number of ultra-short races (400m long) with many controls.


Registration and costs:


All participants must be members of an orienteering club. Family membership in FWOC is $20 and the 2009 membership form (still valid even in 2012 ;-) can be downloaded here – please print a copy, fill it out, and brign to the event (allow 10-15 minutes to 'process' the membership before your first race).

Race entry

Entry in the Novice & Sport categories can be done on-the-day. Entry in other categories must be done online in advance (by May 23rd at the latest) and will incur a late registration cost of $25. Click here if you want to register online.

Electronic Punching

All events use electronic timing. There is a small charge of $2/event to rent SportIdent cards if you don’t have your own.


Any other information?

If you want/need more information please email [email protected] or call 403.585.8478

Here is a little more…

The Barebones weekend is actually set up very well for people trying it out. The first race is "Sprint" format (a really poor name, by the way).Here the navigation tends to be quite easy and the course is quite short. So a perfect "first race" experience. The second race is at the Nordic Centre and if you go in the Sport category you will have a "scatter" format, which means you get to pick which order and which controls to visit - this is the best format for beginners. Navigation at the nordic centre tends to the easy side. Sunday race is at the base of Mt Yamnuska. This is incredibly beautiful so even if you find no check points it will be fantastic! Here the navigation is quite tricky as there are very few man-made features (such as trails, power lines, fences, buildings, etc) so you have to do more interpretation of the map. But again, the Sport category will be Scatter format, so if you get stumped on any check point you can skip it without severe penalty.

By the way, the alternative to "Scatter" is the Point-to-point format which all categories have in the sprint. In Point-to-Point you must visit the check points in the order specified and you must visit all of them in order to get a finish time - so it can be quite harsh for beginners ;-) We use Point-to-point in the Sprint race because the navigation tends to be simpler.