The long distance portion of the Yukon Orienteering Championships was not a walk in the park; it was a run in the desert.
More than 40 orienteerers had their skills and stamina put to the test in the long distance championships that used the Carcross Desert map Wednesday evening.
The soft sand drained legs, and the map, without large hills or depressions, tested map-reading skills. To make matters worse, it was raining.
“It was tough,” said Whitehorse’s Brent Langbakk. “It’s in the desert area so the ground is really soft. The sand zaps your legs, so it’s tough. There are dunes, so there are all these ridges, and if there are legs across these ridges, there’s lots of up-and-downs. So it’s really tiring stuff.”
Langbakk, a five-time Team Canada competitor at the world championships, had the narrowest win of the event. He was fastest on the 8.2-kilometre elite course, defeating former Team Canada member Forest Pearson by just 25 seconds.
In third was Whitehorse’s Trevor Bray, one of three Yukoners on the seven-member national junior team that is coached by Langbakk.
Also on the national team are Yukoners Kendra Murray and Kerstin Burnett.
Murray also found the map to be difficult. But it was good practice as she and her national teammates prepare for the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC), next month in Slovakia.
“The race tonight was so-so – it was challenging,” said Murray. “There’s so much contour detail that you have to read. My route choices were a little interesting, but it worked out.
“This is a really good race as prep for JWOC.”
Murray won the expert division on Wednesday, finding eight out of 13 controls quicker than anyone. In second was Phillippa McNeil, one up from Burnett in third.
Caelan McLean, who won six gold medals over the Western and Canadian Orienteering Championships last summer, won the intermediate division.
Whitehorse’s Nesta Leduc, who is a world champion for her age category, was alone in the senior division.
Amanda Thomson, a silver-medalist at last year’s nationals, was fastest in the novice division.
The sprint and middle distance segments of the Yukon championships will take place this Sunday. The races will take place on the Lewes Lake map, which, like the Carcross Desert map, was first used last summer when the Yukon Orienteering Association hosted the national championships.
The sprint will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the middle at 2 p.m. with a fundraising barbecue in between. The meeting location is at Kilometre Two on Lewes Lake Road.
Results (by course)
Novice (3.0 kilometres)
1st Amanda Thomson (W-14) – 19:42
2nd Liam Mather – 22:56
3rd Samuel Mather – 24:28
4th Lee/Hunter Vincent – 27:00
5th Nichollis Schmidt – 27:13
6th Mettias Schmidt – 29:36
7th Sonjaa Schmidt – 33:51
8th Alliya Thomson – 33:51
9th Feidhlim Marion – 52:06
10th Ensio Lera – 52:07
Intermediate (3.7 kilometres)
1st Caelan McLean (M-16) – 49:04
2nd Wendy Nixon – 1:27:28
3rd Lorna Hutchinson – 1:36:15
4th Beth Hawkings – 1:36:19
5th Tracey Taylor – 2:03:50
Seniors (2.2 kilometres)
1st Nesta Leduc (W75+) – 50:20
Advanced (4.1 kilometres)
1st Sean Mather – 37:56
2nd Ryan Kelly – 55:02
3rd Ellyn Brown (W55+) – 57:42
4th Jim Hawkings (M55+) – 59:28
5th Sabine Schweiger (W45+) – 1:01:33
6th John Rance (M55+) – 1:04:41
7th Karen McKenna (W55+) – 1:05:33
8th Violet Van Hees (W55+) – 1:14:29
9th Bruce McLean (M55+) – 1:18:25
10th Craig Brooks – 1:56:43
Expert (5.5 kilometres)
1st Kendra Murray (EliteW) – 51:30
2nd Philippa McNeil (W35+) – 1:01:22
3rd Kerstin Burnett (EliteW) – 1:05:22
4th Afan Jones (M45+) – 1:05:49
5th Darren Holcombe (M45+) – 1:07:57
6th Kimball Forrest (M45+) – 1:08:12
7th Pia Blake (W-20) – 1:08:42
8th Sara Nielsen (EliteW ) – 1:28:07
Elite (8.2 kilometres)
1st Brent Langbakk (M35+) – 1:02:01
2nd Forest Pearson (EliteM) – 1:02:26
3rd Trevor Bray (EliteM) – 1:13:35
Contact Tom Patrick at t