Whitehorse’s Caelan McLean races at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Finland on July 13. McLean was competing at his third junior worlds. (David Yee Photography)

Yukon orienteers tackle new terrain at junior worlds

Territory represented on national team for 11th straight year

Whitehorse orienteers Leif Blake and Caelan McLean have competed across Canada, in Iceland, Switzerland and more. But they still faced a learning curve at last week’s Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC) in Tampere, Finland.

“The terrain was not quite like anything I’d run in before, with lots of intricately mapped bare rock and many boulders,” said Blake in an email to the News. “The forest was generally quite easy to run through, though thick moss often made it physically challenging. For me, it was a great mix of incredibly detailed areas as well as some more vague ones.”

“I found the terrain quite difficult,” said McLean, also in an email. “It was much different then Yukon terrain with many rocks and small features. The footing was also often uneven with moss on top of rocks and some debris on the ground from logging.”

This year’s JWOC, which was Blake’s second and McLean’s third, marked the 11th straight year Yukoners were present on Canada’s national team.

Blake placed 17th in the B final (77th overall) in the middle distance final on July 11. He also took 147th in the sprint and 116th in the long (third on the Canadian team) over the next two days.

“This being my second JWOC, I was excited to re-engage with the highly competitive atmosphere,” said Blake. “Overall I had a great time, both during competition and spending time with my teammates, as well as orienteers from other nations.

“I am neither thrilled nor disappointed with the week of racing as a whole. I had some good moments, but unfortunately some mistakes that cost me quite a bit of time as well.”

Whitehorse’s Leif Blake heads into the finish chute in the relay race on July 14. (Robert Svoboda/2017 JWOC)

McLean took 15th in the C final (135th overall) in the middle, 157th in the sprint and 155th in the long, in the fields of about 180 orienteers.

“I did not do as well as I had hoped I would in the races but they were still good fun. The races that went the best for me personally were the middle final and the relay,” said McLean.

“The race that stands out most in my mind is probably the long. It was definitely not my best race but it was more that made me realize how important it can be to try to look at all the possible route choices before making a decision.”

This year’s JWOC wrapped up with the relay races on July 14.

Blake — with teammates Jan Erik Naess and Michael Svoboda — placed 32nd. McLean — with teammates Christian Michelsen and David Bakker — took 42nd.

“This year at JWOC every athlete had a GPS tracker on them,” said McLean. “I appreciated this as it gave you the opportunity to see exactly where you went and also be able to compare your routes with anyone else running that day. I personally found this helpful in being able to evaluate your own route choices and see where you may need to improve on you navigation.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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