The final installment of the Yukon Orienteering Championships tested lungs and legs as well as navigation skills.
The long distance championships were, after all, held on the side of a mountain.
“About halfway around in the race and I was huffing and puffing up a hill and I was thinking, ‘This is grueling,’” said Whitehorse’s Forest Pearson. “But the long is supposed to be the ultimate physical challenge and technical challenge. It’s not just technical orienteering, it’s supposed to be very physically demanding, and I think they hit the nail on the head there.”
Pearson raced to a first place finish on the 6.6-kilometre expert course at the championships on Wednesday at Grey Mountain.
He finished with a time of 58 minutes and seven seconds, beating former national team member Brent Langbakk (61:18) and former junior national team member Lee Hawkings (71:41). Pearson also placed first in the expert’s sprint distance on June 4 and was denied a hat trick with second place behind Hawkings in the middle distance on June 11. He swept the expert division, winning all three distances, at last year’s Yukon championships.
“There were a lot of big hills and deep moss in that area up by the biathlon (range),” said Pearson of Wednesday. “It just sucks your legs out.”
Mount Lorne’s Katherine Sheepway was the top female on the advanced course, finishing second overall behind male competitor Ross Burnett. (No females raced the expert division.)
Sheepway, who competed for Canada at the junior worlds and senior worlds in 2003, finished the 4.9-kilometre course in 59:16.
“The course, I thought it was hard!” said Sheepway. “I was kind of having a hard time. I’ve been doing shorter courses lately and this was long – even the distance between the controls, I was finding very long. It was challenging.”
Sheepway was the second female finisher in the sprint and the middle – both times in the expert division – behind Kendra Murray, who represented Canada at her third Junior World Orienteering Championships last summer. Murray, who did not compete on Wednesday, led Canada in three races at the junior worlds.
“The organizers did a really great job putting it on,” said Sheepway. “And it is cool to see so many people out for it.”
Placing behind Hawkings on Wednesday was Whitehorse’s Trevor Bray, one of two Yukon athletes set to compete at the Junior World Orienteering Championships next month in Borovets, Bulgaria. Bray also placed third in the middle and the sprint the previous two weeks.
Bray is joined by Whitehorse’s Pia Blake on Canada’s junior national team bound for Bulgaria. Blake is currently attending school overseas and did not compete in this year’s Yukon championships.
Forest was not the only Pearson to top a division in the long championships. Wife Georgi Pearson claimed first in the intermediate division.
Zeke Dukart and Jan Malfair teamed up to win the novice division.
A total of 66 orienteerers took part in Wednesday’s long championship, giving it the largest turnout of the three distances this year.
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Novice (2.0 km)
1st Zeke Dukart, Jan Malfair – 26:07
2nd Pamela Brown – 26:34
3rd Nikolas Spicer, Victoria Spicer – 43:42
4th Maura Glenn – 47:01
5th Stian Langbakk, Pippa McNeil – 62:00
6th Finn/Peregrine/River/Lake/Anna Pearson – 68:28
Intermediate (2.7 km)
1st Georgi Pearson – 38:25
2nd Jake Brown – 39:04
3rd Micah Hildes – 43:08
4th Gaetan Cyr – 50:26
5th Logan Florkiewicz, Kionna Baker – 50:51
6th Bruce McLean – 51:14
7th Deb Kiemele – 51:54
8th Sofia Bond, Anais Hildes, Leyla Weston – 53:33
9th Jennifer Line – 56:02
10th Linda MacKeigan – 59:44
11th Aven & Darryl Sheepway – 59:50
12th Gjermund Roesholt – 67:52
13th Wolf Benefeldt, Conly Watson – 67:58
14th Savannah Cash – 69:00
15th Darryl Bray – 71:31
16th Nesta Leduc – 74:16
17th Karen Furlong, Tracey Taylor – 79:03
18th Craig Brooks – 79:48
Advanced (4.9 km)
1st Ross Burnett – 55:39
2nd Katherine Sheepway – 59:16
3rd Caelan McLean – 60:34
4th Jennifer MacKeigan – 71:44
5th Barbara Scheck – 72:17
6th Jeremy Johnson – 79:35
7th Bob Sagar – 81:20
8th Grant Abbott – 83:23
9th Sarah Murray – 93:07
10th Violet Van Hees – 1:03:04
11th Lara Melnik – 1:07:32
12th Joe Bradley – 1:10:22
13th Nate Wood – 1:20:30
Expert (6.6 km)
1st Forest Pearson – 58:07
2nd Brent Langbakk – 61:18
3rd Lee Hawkings – 71:41
4th Trevor Bray – 80:36
5th Leif Blake – 83:10
6th Darren Holcombe – 1:14:07