A trio of Australian expatriates competed in the 2007 Canadian Orienteering Championships held 27-29 July in Saskatchewan. The three events were notable for 30°C plus temperatures, complex negative terrain, and plenty of big mistakes.
William Hawkins, Nicki Rehn, and Mark Gregson all competed in the senior elite classes, mixing it up with the top elites from Canada and some from the US.
Friday’s sprint race at the University of Saskatoon was relatively uneventful, with results generally according to form. Rehn finished 4th in the women’s and Gregson 8th in the men’s. Hawkins was still en route to Saskatoon because of a delayed flight and missed the race.
The middle distance championship was held on Saturday in a sweaty 32°C and was the competitors’ introduction to the technical terrain at Eb’s Trails. Hawkins achieved the best result of the Australians placing 3rd in 39:08, 1:31 behind Canadian national team member Patrick Goeres. Gregson was 4th another 5:27 back. The difficulty of the course was clearly demonstrated in Goeres’ winning pace of 9:10/km.
The women’s field also had difficulty with the terrain. Rehn placed 5th behind winner Canadian stalwart Pam James who completed the 3.7km course in 47:12.
Sunday saw temperature rise to 33°C for the long distance race. Hawkins again produced a good placing despite a mistake riddled run and finished 4th. He was leading through the first half of the race but then lost concentration in the heat and dropped nearly 9 minutes on the eventual winner, Wil Smith of Canada.
Gregson joined more than half the men’s field when he withdrew at the spectator control at 3/4 distance after struggling with the heat.
Rehn, who grew up in outback WA, thrived in the heat but made two massive mistakes ending up in 7th.