Orienteerers get back in the woods

Yukon orienteerers were out in full force Wednesday evening in the Chadburn Lake area. Fortunately, the mosquitoes were not. More than 50 orienteerers registered for the event -- the third of the season --

Yukon orienteerers were out in full force Wednesday evening in the Chadburn Lake area. Fortunately, the mosquitoes were not.

More than 50 orienteerers registered for the event—the third of the season—but there were far more people than that, with many groups sharing their timing device.

“Some of the juniors went out in groups, so there’s probably more people,” said organizer Pam James.

Many adults brought children along—or maybe it was the other way around.

Completing the 1.5-kilometre novice course was Mael Pronovost, 7, a participant of the Yukon Orienteering Association’s junior program for ages eight to 20.

The junior program practises on alternate Wednesdays between the meets, and teaches basics skills such as compass and map reading and symbols.

“We’ve been practising keeping our thumbs on the map,” said Mael, referring to the way orienteerers keep track of their location.

“He’s a sailor—he lives on a boat in the winter—so he knows how to read marine maps,” said Mael’s father, Marc Pronovost. “So this is easy for him because he already knows the maps.”

The Yukon Orienteering Association hosted two racing events during National Orienteering Week at the start of the month, however the second, an urban race in downtown Whitehorse, was a bit of a flop with only a handful coming out to the midday event.

The first event of the season took place at Robert Service Campground, with much of the course overlapping the Millennium Trail. Wednesday’s event was the first of the year to fully take place in the woods. It featured four different courses.

“The novice course is basically on trails or very close to trails,” said James. “They’re very straightforward.

“The intermediate is a little bit more difficult with more route choice. And the controls are a little more off the trail.”

For those in search of a challenge, two advanced courses were prepared, a short and a long.

“We spent time first planning the routes and then coming out in the terrain to make sure the map is accurate,” said James. “Then we have to go out and put the controls out.

“We can plan (the courses) out on the computer and it will tell you how long the courses are.”

Finishing first on the short advanced course was Dharia Beatty, 15, who also finished fourth overall in Robert Service event for the long course—first for women.

“It was the first short advanced that I’ve done this year and it was good,” said Beatty. “I hit all the controls nicely except for one. There were two features that were really similar and I thought I was on the left one, but I was on the right one. I had to go back and try again because I wasn’t sure where I was.”

As a member of the Yukon’s junior team, Beatty will be going to the national championships this summer in Manitoba. Last year at the nationals she secured two first-place finishes and a second.

“I’ve gone to three or four nationals,” said Beatty. “I pretty much go every summer.”

Although Beatty struggled to find a control, some had a harder time.

Jim Hawkings, running the long-advanced course, was disqualified after failing to locate a control.

“It went well for about five controls then I missed one—I ran out of time basically,” said Hawkings. “I tried a couple times to find it and I couldn’t. I saw it was getting late so I bailed out.

“If you don’t watch your map like a hawk, you get lost and then you have problems.”

As it turns out, Hawkings’ navigational skills were not to blame. Before the race, while plotting the course on his map, he incorrectly copied the location of the elusive control.

“No wonder I couldn’t find it,” said Hawkings, after learning of his mistake. “Then it went from bad to worse.”

Hawkings’ son, Lee Hawkings, 18, a member of the national junior team, is currently training in BC with fellow Yukoners Colin Abbott and Brent Langbakk.

“I think he’s running in the races for the (adult) national team, but he’s only a junior so he doesn’t have much of a chance of making it,” said Hawkings.

Both Lee and Abbott will be competing at the 2009 Junior World Orienteering Championships in Primiero, Italy, in July.


Novice 1.5 km

1st Anna Janowicz   12:49

2nd Natalie Hynes   13:24

3rd Sofia Bond   14:33

Intermediate 2.5 km

1st Perry Hynes   28:10

2nd Kerstin Burnett   29:42

3rd Trevor Bray   32:02

Short advanced 2.6 km

1st Dharia Beatty   21:59

2nd Justine Scheck   29:13

3rd Grant Abbott   29:33

Long advanced 5 km

1st Forest Pearson   49:32

2nd Afan Jones   51:18

3rd Barbara Scheck   1:31:01

Contact Tom Patrick at


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