Kimberley kids at Orienteering Nationals

Once again, the Kootenay Orienteering Club sent representatives to the Eastern Orienteering Championships and the Canadian Orienteering Chyampionships.

This year with the distance being so great, Montreal for the Easterns and Perth ON for the Canadians, only the 4 juniors went. Megan Howe, David Howe, Daniel Holmes and MacKenzie McLean had to do some fundraising in order to be able to afford to attend. They did an event Dec 31 last year called the Turkey Run Off. This year they hosted the Hoodoo 5 running event, ran a water station for the Wasa Triathlon and looked after table/ chair set up and assisted with lighting at the Pipe Band Tattoo. The Kootenay Orienteering Club generously awarded the 4 kids $1000 each to assist in their travel expenses from the club’s pursuit of excellence grant.Without this money from KOC, the kids would not have been able to attend. Another bonus was a $500 donation from the Kimberley Elks Club. This money helped pay for the registration costs for the 7events the kids attended and the Sass Peepre training camp for juniors. The third bonus was our club president Chris Bullock had put out to clubs down east if anyone would be willing to be billetors for the kids. Gratefully, Dr. Anna Fichman from the Montreal Ramblers club offered to host everyone, including chaperones. She picked everyone up from the airport, took people food shopping, had people stay in her house, transported kids to and from events and arranged everyone to stay in her rental cottage near Perth. This was invaluable to the group as hotels were cost prohibitive and camping was logistically impossible.

Everything worked out, except for poor Daniel. The night before the kids left for their adventure, they had one final training session. During that practice Daniel unfortunately sprained his ankle and was unable to participate in any of the events. Daniel was in the sidelines at the events cheering his teammates on and learning invaluable tips from other coaches and athletes participating. At the training camp Daniel learned some new mapping skills and was able to participate in the ropes course offered to everyone.

At both the Eastern and Canadian Championships Megan Howe, David Howe and MacKenzie McLean ran medium, long and sprint events. This year the girls ages (17) meant that they had to move up a division to F20, so they were competing against girls who could be as old as 20. There are many more events and clubs in Eastern Canada and the competitors quite often go to Europe as well, were orienteering is a huge sport. It is even televised and competitors wear GPS tracking devices. The girls did well racing from previous map level 3 to map 8 or 9. They were very challenged but each managed to finish between 5-7th overall. David (16) did not have to move up divisions yet. He did very well in his competions. In the Easterns he was 2nd, 3rd and 5th. The kids were ineligible for medals in the Eastern as they are from the west, but it was good practice. In the Canadians, he finished 3rd in the middle event and 2nd in the long event, so he received a bronze and silver medal. He had a miss-punch in the sprint event which disqualified him, but he would have finished 2nd there too. On the last day the trio worked together and did a fun relay.

Orienteering is an endurance sport that was developed by the military in Europe. The competitors use no GPS and rely on their map reading skills while running through a wide variety of terrain. The East is very different than here, no big mountains and very wet and swampy. These conditions made the events very challenging but the kids still had a great time and learned a lot at each.

Every year the Canadian Orienteering Federation also hosts a training camp called Sass Peepre camp for youth aged 10-19. The camp sets up various maps, events and simulations that help the kids with their route planning, map reading and endurance. This year’s camp was held at Morin Heights ski hill. They also had a high routes ropes and zip line course available for fun at this year’s camp.

With their hostess Dr Fichman and her 4 sons, they were also able to tour around Montreal, take in some fireworks, visit Ottawa and Parliament Hill and explore Upper Beverley Lake at the cottage near Perth.

It was an action packed 13 days.

Thanks to coaches and club members, Chris Bullock, Toni Kitto, Jim Webster, Ron Monk, Wakana Heilman, Maureen deCamp and John Chatwin for their assistance to getting the kids back East. Also a huge Thanks to Daniels’s parents, Laura and Scott Holmes for acting as chaperones and chauffeurs for the trip. This trip really wouldn’t have been possible without them. Next year’s Canadians and the North American Championships are going to be held in Whitehorse NWT.

Watch for information on the Kootenay Orienteering Club home page for the junior program, Junior Adventure Running Club, to start in the fall, coached by Toni Kitto.

Melissa Howe


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