Orienteering champs crowned

The Yukon Orienteering Association’s annual championships put a wrap on the season this weekend, with two days of racing.

The Yukon Orienteering Association’s annual championships put a wrap on the season this weekend, with two days of racing. The rain held off and locals and visiting athletes alike enjoyed the golden forest setting for both races.

Participants from Fairbanks, Haines and Vancouver joined close to 40 local orienteers for the two-race series.

Saturday’s middle-distance courses were designed and set by Ross Burnett. A total of seven different courses meant there was one to suit every skill level. Using the MacPherson map, participants found the terrain challenging due to the elevation gains and losses.

In the male 12 category, three participants were very closely matched over the 2.4-kilometre course with less then two minutes between them.

First in was Shawn Kitchen in 20:47, followed by Caelan McLean in 21:05 and Trevor Bray in 22:26.

First place in female 13-14 was Jennifer MacKeigan with a time of 57:36 over three kilometres.

In the female 15-16 category, Kendra Murray completed the 4.3 kilometres in a time of 63:33, followed by Kerstin Burnett in 81:15.

The male 17-20 category has been hotly contested this past season between several athletes. The 2007 Yukon champion in this category is Colin Abbott with a time of 72:58 over the 7.1 kilometres.

Colin reported that this was the hardest course he had ever raced.

Lee Hawkings finished second, in a time of 86:59, and Nansen Murray took third in 99:42. The three will be heading off to the Kamloops area in October to compete at the Western Canadian Championships.

In the elite men’s (and one women’s) category, Brent Langbakk was a very quick 72:05 over the 8.4-kilometre course.

Showing his three younger brothers that he still has the upper hand, Forest Pearson finished second in 88:35.

Afan Jones was not far behind in 93:02.

Visiting national squad member Louise Oram chose to run against the men and finished fourth in 108:41.

In the female 45-54 category it was Barbara Scheck with a time of 37:01 over 3.2 kilometres, followed by Karen McKenna in 57:40 and Wendy Nixon in 71:01.

Jim Hawkings led the men’s 45-54, covering the 4.4 kilometres in 55:46, second place went to Jim Green in 66:59, and Bruce McLean took third in 68:15.

Ev Pasichnyk completed her female 55-64 course in 81:26, while Grant Abbott had a time of 71:20 in the men’s 55-64.

Sunday’s event was a very different format.

Course planner Brent Langbakk worked out a series of loops in the forest, which crossed through a common area several times. Called an “O-Cross,” it effectively was a one-person relay.

The mass start can challenge competitors — they have to remain focused on their own course, avoiding distraction by the many people heading in different directions. A system of forking means that even people on the same course go to controls in a different order.

As participants came back to the start area they picked up another map and went out on a second and third loop. 

On the novice course, Trevor Bray reversed the results of the day before.

Finishing in 17:42, he was only one second ahead of his nearest competitor, Caelan McLean. Rounding out the top three was Shawn Kitchen in 47:32.

On the intermediate course, newcomers Amanda and Philipe Mouchet picked up the essential skills quickly and finished in 57:52, ahead of Kerstin Burnett in 58:18.

Showing that her result of the day before was no fluke, 15-year-old Kendra Murray finished ahead of Barbara Scheck and mom Karen McKenna on the short advanced course.

Her time of 35:01 was impressive.

The long advanced participants had three loops to complete, totaling five kilometres. Colin Abbott finished in only 36:30, a mere 19 seconds ahead of Ross Burnett.

Third was Louise Oram with a time of 40:22.

Ten Yukoners are not ready to hang up their o-shoes yet and will be travelling on the Thanksgiving weekend to Kamloops to compete at the Western Canadian Championships.