Orienteers from around the world gathered in Whitehorse this weekend for the Western Canadian Orienteering Championships.
More specifically, a couple from Australia and some Brits showed up, joining the 80 Canadian orienteers competing in the three- race series.
Things got started Friday with a sprint race in Riverdale. Saturday’s middle-distance race was on the Copper King map, at the Railway Museum, and Sunday’s race was held on a brand new map in the MacPherson area near Hidden Valley School.
Aussies Mace Neve and Ben Rattray placed in the top three in most of their races, although they won’t get any points for it.
“Most orienteering events around the world are open to anyone, even if it’s your first time,” said Pippa McNeil of the Yukon Orienteering Association.
And it’s that grassroots mentality that’s part of the sport’s appeal — the elite athletes and the beginners running alongside each other.
“There’s very few attitudes in this sport,” added Ross Burnett, the former world cup competitor who designed the courses in the Hidden Valley School area for the long-distance races.
“Every time you go out, it’s on you personally when you mess up.”
Don’t kid yourself though, it’s a competition, and crucial points in the Canadian elite standings were at stake.
Whitehorse’s Brent Langbakk took top spot in the middle-distance race on Saturday and second place in Friday’s sprint. He stumbled during Sunday’s long-distance race though.
“It’s been going great, except for today,” he said after being disqualified for missing one of the course’s checkpoints.
It’s easy to get flustered and confused when you out in the bush, rushing to locate all the controls and hit them in the right order, said Langbakk.
Fellow Yukoner Pam James had a successful weekend as well, taking top spot in the middle- and long-distance events, and second in the sprint.
James and Langbakk are preparing to join Team Canada for the World Championships in Denmark later this month.
Compared to the previous events held in Whitehorse, the overall turnout for this year’s Westerns was disappointing.
“I guess we’re a victim of our own success,” said Burnett.
“Having hosted both the Westerns in 2002 and the Nationals in 2004, the novelty of coming up to the Yukon is starting to wear off. And 15 to 20 local orienteers are away as well — it’s unlucky timing.”
But after a busy few years, Whitehorse will not see another high profile orienteering event until 2010, when the Westerns come back, Burnett added.
Meanwhile local orienteers can enjoy the legacy of these big competitions, using the world-class maps for Yukon Orienteering Association meets and training the Yukon Junior Team.
Check the complete Western Canadian Orienteering Championship Results at www.yukonorienteering.ca
Sprint – Riverdale Map
1st Pia Blake, Whitehorse, 14:33
1st Trevor Bray, Whitehorse, 12:53
2nd Roan McMillan,
1st Kerstin Burnett,
1st Dahria Beatty, Whitehorse, 15:24
2nd Andrea Bayly, Calgary, 27:09
1st Graeme Rennie, Vancouver, 12:41
2nd Lee Hawkings, Whitehorse, 14:24
1st Mace Neve, Australia, 14:39
2nd Pamela James, Whitehorse, 15:46
3rd Katherine Scheck, Whitehorse, 16:48
1st Ben Rattray, Australia, 11:28
2nd Brent Langbakk, Whitehorse, 12:11
3rd Magnus Johansson, Vancouver, 12:50
Middle distance – Copper King Map
1st Pia Blake, Whitehorse, 29:25
1st Trevor Bray, Whitehorse, 13:27
2nd Roan McMillan, Vancouver, 14:23
1st Dahria Beatty, Whitehorse, 13:59
2nd Kerstin Burnett, Whitehorse, 20:39
1st Andrea Bayly, Calgary, 1:20:33
1st Lee Hawkings, Whitehorse, 26:31
2nd Graeme Rennie, Vancouver, 29:44
1st Pamela James, Whitehorse, 35:27
2nd Mace Neve, Australia, 39:19
3rd Marta Green, Vancouver, 39:53
1st Brent Langbakk, Whitehorse, 30:16
2nd Magnus Johansson, Vancouver, 31:19
3rd Ben Rattray, Australia, 32:56
Long distance – Macpherson Map
1st Pia Blake, Whitehorse, 29:38
1st Roan McMillan, Vancouver, 21:08
2nd Trevor Bray, Whitehorse, 28:01
1st Dahria Beatty, Whitehorse, 24:32
2nd Kerstin Burnett, Whitehorse 1:07:39
1st Rhiannon Jones, Whitehorse, 1:01:32
2nd Andrea Bayly, Calgary, 2:19:28
1st Lee Hawkings, Whitehorse, 46:02
2nd Graeme Rennie, Vancouver, 47:56
1st Pamela James, Whitehorse, 1:17:34
2nd Marta Green, Vancouver, 1:24:56
3rd Katherine Scheck, Whitehorse, 1:32:32
1st Magnus Johansson, Vancouver, 1:14:25
2nd Ben Rattray, Australia, 1:21:49
3rd Brian May, Kamloops, 1:22:38