Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Marissa Tiel

BUSHWHACKING – Caelan McLean makes his way out of the forest after he checks into the penultimate control during Wednesday night’s Yukon Orienteering Championships middle distance event in the Lo-Bird subdivision.

The forest fights back at Yukon Orienteering champs middle distance race

The last time Leif Blake raced on a map was in September.

By Marissa Tiel on June 9, 2017

The last time Leif Blake raced on a map was in September.

He got his orienteering legs back in a hurry Wednesday night at the Yukon Orienteering Championships middle distance race in the Lo-Bird subdivision.

Blake, who was renamed to the junior national team and will attend the junior world championships in Finland later this summer, posted the second-fastest time on the expert course, stopping the clock in 32 minutes and 45 seconds.

“I feel overall I was a little sloppy,” he said. “I think I could have improved a bit just generally making sure I was on better compass bearings. I also got lost in the thick of the dark green woods a couple of times.”

Forest Pearson posted the fastest time on the new map section, finishing in 30:02.

The course featured lots of greenery and forced athletes to be on with their compass bearings or risk venturing into the wrong section of the forest.

“Very green. Lots of trees close together,” said Pia Blake, who was the second-fastest woman on the expert course in 46:08. “I’ve got scratches all over.”

Kendra Murray posted the fastest expert woman time on the course in 44:24.

Another member of the junior national team raced on the course, relishing the different terrain.

Emma Sherwood, a Calgary/ Vancouver athlete who is coaching the Yukon’s junior orienteering program this season, finished third in a time of 50:21.

“There was a lot of thick forest you had to bushwhack through,” she said.

Sherwood got punished by the forest when she tried to force her way through, only to get redirected by the thick foliage.

“I got stuck in some trees,” she said, “and had to push my way out.”

Sherwood will join Leif Blake and Yukoner Caelan McLean at the junior world orienteering championships in Finland.

They’ll finish out the Yukon Orienteering Championships with a sprint in Riverdale next week and the long distance race the week after that.

“I’m really hoping to improve on my results from last year,” said Blake.

The Yukon Orienteering Championships sprint race kicks off at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Nisutlin and Alsek on June 14.

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