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Sprint championships marred by theft, vandalism

Most sports clubs welcome firsts. There can be the first time a club sends an athlete to an international competition, or the first time it hosts a national meet.

Most sports clubs welcome firsts.

There can be the first time a club sends an athlete to an international competition, or the first time it hosts a national meet. But the first time its property is stolen and vandalized during a competition is a whole other story.

The Yukon Orienteering Association ran into problems Wednesday when it hosted its Yukon Championships sprint event at Porter Creek Secondary School. During the race, some orienteers on the short course arrived at four control stations only to discover the electric devices used to record times had been stolen.

“They took them from the top of the stand and removed them—and we’re vulnerable to that,” said event organizer Afan Jones. “Someone whipping through (trails) could take these.

“Really, they are of no use to anyone.”

By the end of the event, three of the four devices were recovered, but they had been broken open and their lithium batteries had been removed. It is not known whether the devices, costing approximately $150 each, could be repaired.

“The circuitry seems to be complete, but I’m not sure if we can repair them or use them again,” said Jones. “We’ve lost $600 worth, potentially.

“I just happened to recover them by the last vandalized control; they were scattered in the bush and there was no trace of anyone who took them.”

Organizers of the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay use the orienteering association’s control devices to record the times of cyclists between each of the 10 legs of the race. Wednesday’s theft and vandalism will have no effect on the June 20 race from Haines Junction to Haines, Alaska, because the orienteering association still has almost 50 of the devices remaining.

“These (devices) are beneficial to the sports and recreation community,” said Jones. “It’s unfortunate that this kind of event is marred by vandalism.”

Fortunately, organizers were able to deal with the situation, using the old hole-punch system for those controls, so racers had to puncture their maps to prove they arrived at the stations.

Taking first on Course 4—the “expert course”—was Brent Langbakk, finishing just over a minute in front of national junior team member Collin Abbott with a time of 16:20. Finishing third was Abbott’s teammate, Lee Hawkings.

“For the advanced courses we’re used to running through the forest with not many trails and really looking at the contours, but with this being in the trails around Porter Creek School there’s just so many trails it’s like a maze,” said Langbakk. “It’s really easy to get confused about which trail you’re on. It’s definitely a very challenging course.

“Usually trails are easy to follow and people can use them to make navigation easier, but in this case—especially with this being a sprint and you’re running all out—all the trails are coming at you very quickly.”

Langbakk has represented Canada five times at the world championships, but did not submit his name for consideration this year because of an injury. However, Abbott and Hawkings will represent Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championship in Trentino, Italy, in early July.

Top finishers

Course 1 - 1.6km

1st Pia Blake - 10:13

2nd Adrienne Hynes - 14:29

3rd Remy Kuiper -14:32

4th Leif Blake - 17:31

5th Natalie Hynes - 17:50

Course 2 - 2.3km

1st Perry Hynes - 29:24

2nd Miko Miyahara - 30:22

3rd Tracy Taylor - 37:03

4th Hilary Wilkinson - 38:24

5th Linda MacKeigan - 44:31

Course 3 - 2.6km

1st Dahria Beatty - 17:55

2nd Trevor Bray - 27:21

3rd Karen McKenna - 30:46

4th Georgi Pearson - 32:03

5th Pippa McNeil - 34:28

Course 4 - 3.1km

1st Brent Langbakk - 16:20

2nd Collin Abbott - 17:29

3rd Lee Hawkings - 19:47

4th Forest Pearson - 19:55

5th Ryan Kelly - 26:02

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