Elite orienteerers go on auction block

Canada's top orienteerers weren't just looking for controls in the woods on Wednesday, they were looking for buyers.

Canada’s top orienteerers weren’t just looking for controls in the woods on Wednesday, they were looking for buyers.

To fundraise for Canada’s High Performance Program for orienteering, Eric Kemp, from the Ottawa Orienteering Club, decided to organize a relay event.

Individuals could bid on current and former national team members who were up for auction to partner with in the two-person relay held at Selkirk Elementary School.

“The relay is especially fun because it’s a mass-start event,” said Kemp. “There are a lot of runners out there at the same time. Plus we mixed things up by forking the courses, which means runners will be running together for a bit of the course, but then they have to split ways. That inevitably leads to chaos.

“There are eight variations of the course, but in the end everyone ends up running the same (distance).”

With Whitehorse having just hosted the Western Canadian Orienteering Championships last weekend, and about to host the Canadian Orienteering Championships this weekend, there were plenty of elite athletes to bid on.

One national team member on the block was Whitehorse’s Kendra Murray, who recently returned from representing Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Wejherowo, Poland.

Bought up by senior national team member Jon Torrance, from Ottawa, the two raced to a third place finish and Yukon’s top finish. Murray won golds in the middle and the long, and a bronze in the sprint, at the Western Championships last weekend.

“It was really good; it was probably one of my better sprints,” said Murray. “The main limiting factor was my tiredness – my legs wouldn’t go any faster. But the orienteering was really good.”

Taking first were Winnipeg teammates Damian Konotopetz and Steven Graupner with a time of 31:49. In second were Winnipeg’s Patrick Goeres and Hamilton’s Patrick Saile in 33:21.

Murray and Torrance almost found themselves in fourth, but the disqualification of the Whitehorse team of Brent Langbakk and Trevor Bray, who were just seconds ahead, moved the team up a spot.

“In sprints there are ‘impassible structures,’ and the basketball court on the other side of the school here has a high fence, and it’s marked on the map as impassible,” said Langbakk, a five-time competitor on Team Canada at the world championships.

“The control was in the corner on the other side, and I reached through the fence to punch it. So I needed to go on the inside.

“It’s totally a trap. It just so happened it was close enough that I could reach through. I wasn’t thinking because usually that rule doesn’t apply if it’s a forested event.”

Bray won bronze medals in the middle and sprint distance events at the Western Championships over the weekend.

Over 80 orienteerers took part in the High Performance Program relay.

“The High Performance Program encompasses the national team, but it also includes the runners who have the potential to represent Canada at the international level,” said Kemp.

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