At his fifth World Orienteering Championships, Yukon’s Brent Langbakk navigated an urban labyrinth in the small town of Prostejov, outside of Olomouc, Czech Republic Sunday.
Finishing 30 out of 36 in his heat, Langbakk did not advance to the finals.
Still, Langbakk’s pleased with his performance.
“My goals were to have a plan for every leg, read ahead and have good flow through the course, and leave the controls correctly in the sections with all the direction change,” Langbakk, a member of the national orienteering team, said by e-mail from the Czech Republic.
“I did all those tasks very well so I have to be pleased. I can’t really ask any more of myself than that. I think I did the best performance I could.”
Langbakk competed in a “sprint,” the shortest of the four categories. Specifically, his was an “urban sprint,” a 2.9-kilometre course that snaked its way through a metropolitan environment.
“Cities and towns are maybe not where people expect orienteering to be done, but it can offer some different challenges,” said Langbakk, who finished two minutes and 21 seconds behind the winner with a time of 13:19.
“There were route choices through narrow passageways and streets and around buildings in a kind of maze,” said Langbakk, describing the course.
After the downtown leg of the race, competitors entered a grassy park with trees and bushes, a section with a lot of changes in direction.
The final stage was an area surrounding a school and apartment building, featuring a maze of fencing to negotiate.
Among the race’s three stages were 17 checkpoints, set at varying distances apart, from 40 metres to more than a kilometer.
Contrary to reason, the close proximity of some checkpoints didn’t make things easier for the racers.
“I made an error of about 20 seconds coming into the park area,” said Langbakk. “I spotted a control beyond the one I was looking for and went right past mine and had to come back to it. I simply didn’t interpret the map and judge the distance very well.”
The short course required less navigation than many races, placing a greater emphasis on running speed.
This may have limited Langbakk’s performance.
“I have been plagued by an Achilles tendon injury for about a month now,” said Langbakk. “So, although I was hoping the alternate training I was doing would see me through, I just wasn’t at my best physically…
“I had hoped for a much better placing,” admitted Langbakk. “My previous best at the Worlds was 20th in the qualifier so I wanted to improve on that.”
In the two other short courses, Canada’s Patrick Goeres finished eighth with a time of 11:19, 27 seconds behind the winner. Canadian Jon Torrance finished 27th with a time of 12:37, just 1:49 behind the winner.
Goeres went on to finish 44 out of 46 in the finals. The two competitors Goeres beat failed to finish the race.
The World Orienteering Championships played host to about 300 athletes from more than 40 countries.