As the tradition continues, Sage Stomp XXVI took place outside of Kamloops on the May long weekend. The Gardens Creek ranch was again the host, just like in 2003 for the Canadian Championships and in 2007 for the Western Canadian Championships. The area offers fast orienteering in open forests and meadows. Lots of climb and a good amount of rock and cliffs.
All three races were part of the Canada Cup Elite Series and a strong field was on the start line in M21E and W21E. The program started with the Sprint on Saturday at noon and the elite runners started late in a seeded Red Group. Spectator controls and race announcing created an exciting arena experience. Will Critchley, EOOC, with a smooth and controlled race took over the lead at the 4th control and never let go with a dominating performance. Graeme Rennie, GVOC's hope at JWOC in Poland, took second place, but was over a minute behind Will. The pre-race favorite Thomas Nipen, GVOC, struggled to find map contact and flow throughout the race and had to settle for 3rd place, another 28 seconds behind Graeme. On the Womens' side, Louise Oram decided to run M21E at Sage Stomp, which opened up W21E to some very close competition. Erica Lay, VICO, took advantage of the situation and won the sprint ahead of Marie-Cat Bruno and Abbigail May, both SAGE runners.
The Middle distance followed after a few hours of rest and this time Thomas Nipen was not going to be denied. He made a mistake on the 1st control and again on the 2nd, but turned on the afterburner from this point on and eventually took over the lead at the 16th control, holding on to claim victory 13 seconds ahead of Mike Smith, ONB. Will Critchley finished 3rd, only 26 seconds behind Thomas in a close race. Katherine Scheck, YOA, clearly had the fastest legs in W21E, winning with over 2 minutes despite dropping about 1:30 on mistakes. Andrea Balakova, GVOC, and Marie-Cat Bruno were keeping similar pace throughout the course, with Andrea edging out Marie-Cat with a 1 second margin.
The weather was great for the Long distance on Sunday morning with cool and damp conditions. Abbigail May kept a pace that no one could match. She took over the lead on the 2.6 km long leg to control 5 and extended her lead from there to win with a 5 minute margin. Erica Lay in a clear second place ahead of Andrea Balakova in 3rd. For the men, Thomas Nipen was forced to watch from the sidelines with a sore toe. Will Critchley started early and was the first runner to finish the course in a time of 83:35. The only runner to challenge Will was Mike Smith, who kept the same pace in the forest, but ended up just behind in 84:00. Brian May, SAGE, had a steady and strong run and finished 3rd, about 6 minutes behind Will and Mike.
Links to all results, splits and RouteGadget can be found on the GVOC website, and the here are the current standings in the Canada Cup Elite Series.
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