Bilkenters Best Professionals in Orienteering

The University Orienteering Championships were held in Balıkesir on April 16-17. The orienteers of Bilkent University terminated their Spring Break early and joined this challenging event organized each year by the University Sports Federation.

Bilkent University participated this year with a women's team of 4 members: Burcu Denemeç (MBG/III), Nilgün Öz (IE/II), Ayşegül Turgut (POLS/IV), and Merve Nur Çenesiz (MAN/III). The Bilkent men, Can Adalı (ME/I), Şeyhmus Güler (EE/IV), and Ali Alp Akyol (EE/III), competed as individuals since it takes at least 4 to form a team.

A total of 458 students from 30 universities throughout the country met at Balıkesir to compete in this two stage orienteering event. The first day featured the sprint category, which was held in Atatürk Park in the city center where competitors tried out their orienteering skills running in the maze of pathways and herbacious borders. At the end of the day, Bilkent University women's team ranked 7th out of the 30 universities taking place in the competition.

The second day featured the Middle Distance competition and was held in the Savaştepe forests, 45 km from Balıkesir. This was a tough day for all as the competition not only required detailed map reading, trying to find the control points hidden away in gullies and pits or amongst dense undergrowth, but was also a test of physical endurance, the distance being 6 km for the women and 7.9 km for the men.

The Bilkent women had managed to keep their position at the end of the day and ranked 7th overall.
Orienteering is quite a new sport at Bilkent University and among the team members, although some others are more experienced. Ali Alp Akyol and Merve Nur Çenesiz had only just enrolled in the course PE205 in the spring semester. Their rivals, on the other hand, consisting of students from military colleges and civilians mostly from the PE departments of universities, were much more trained and experienced.

"What is your branch?" Alp was approached from one of the students from Cumhuriyet University. "Engineering" replied Alp, not knowing what was asked. "It turned out the student was from the Athletics Branch of the PE Department," says Alp. "He was surprised that all orienteers from Bilkent were actually doing this sport for fun."

President of the Turkish Orienteering Federation Mr. Mehmet Genç, in his speech at the award ceremony, also devoted a few words to mention METU and Bilkent because neither school awards degrees in physical education and their students still ranked 4th and 7th respectively among the 30 schools participating.