Izzy's report from the Stockholm O camp
Over the summer I got the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in the OK Ravinen club hut in Stockholm with 20 other British juniors. The hut itself is only a 20 minute bus ride from the city centre (in Hellasgarden), and is also surrounded by flawless Scandinavian terrain that we made use of from the very beginning.
We started off our Swedish experience with a reflex bana(na), which is a night terrain run following tiny bits of reflector stapled onto trees and roots. This gave us an idea of what to expect from the area in the coming weeks.
The next day we were thrown into the terrain again to hang kites for the weekly Luffarligen competition held by OK Ravinen, then to run the courses themselves.
Our daily routine was pretty inconsistent due to the variety of training and competitions we did. Usually we got up around 7 or 8 for breakfast, then headed out on the bus for the morning. Sometimes we brought sandwiches with us, other times we would train from the club hut and just return for lunch. We then usually had another training session in the afternoon or evening; it was a busy 2 weeks!
After some training that afternoon and the next morning, we had Ravinen club intervals in the evening. These turned out to be much more full on then we expected, but still enjoyable and meant that some people were well on track for a 100km week (though I don't think anyone actually achieved that)!
The next day was a big traveling day to get us to the island of Rano for our first competition. It was definitely an interesting event, in a lovely area, and with a very cold, brief swim afterwards. But no one saw a moose :(.
The next 2 days were spent doing a middle and long race just outside Stockholm. Both days had an interesting travel arrangement, compiled of various buses and trams, then a final hitch hike to get us to the arena. After the race (and the full Swedish experience of open showers) we got dropped off at an assortment of train and bus stations by some kind orienteers heading our way. This gave us the opportunity to buy snacks (plenty of giflar and bilar) in Stockholm and have a little look around, before making our way back to Hellasgarden.
Most afternoons, especially after competitions, we were able to swim in the lake a 2 minute walk from the club hut. It definitely wasn't the best swimming temperature, but maybe counted as a beneficial post-training ice bath?
On the Saturday night we also went into town to spectate at the midnattsloppet, a 10km road race around Stockholm. Here we took full advantage of the music and had an amazing time cheering on the competitors.
Probably one of my favorite experiences of the trip was the team sprint race we did. It had loads of local but world class competitors, and the whole thing was in an area no more than 500m across. We were in teams of 2, each running 3 legs about 1km long, so there were loads of controls in such a small area, and it was absolute chaos.
Aside from the orienteering, my favourite event of the trip was going to Gronalund, a theme park where Bastille was playing! We spent the afternoon getting in as many rides as possible. We knew we were going to see Bastille, so they had become our tour sound track, setting us up well to sing along to all their songs at the evening concert.
For our 2 week stay in the club hut, we were also staying with a successful Ukrainian WOC competitor, Ruslan Glebov, who came along to help us with training. He gave lots of useful advice and even did a few post training analysis sessions with us.
One afternoon, we even got a session with a Swedish weight lifter who spoke to us about training in the gym, and showed us some techniques we could benefit from and use at home.
As well as all the conventional foot o competitions, we also got the chance to take part in the Swedish MTBO (mountain bike orienteering) champs. It was very different to what we were used to, but something I'd love to do again in the future. We had to hire bikes, and used map boards for the first time, so almost everyone was entered in the open races, but we got some good results considering!
Finally, our last 2 days were spent at another middle and long race, before hitch hiking to the airport for emotional goodbyes and flights home to the UK.
There were so many amazing experiences in such a short time, many of which I haven't even mentioned here! I had an incredible time on the trip and became friends with loads of new orienteers, as well as getting to spend 2 weeks with some people I'm already close friends with!
I'm very thankful to Nick Barrable, who organised the whole tour and coached us out there, as well as ferrying our bags about on the last day. Also to all the other volunteers who coached us and ensured we got the most from the trip, both in and out of orienteering.
Thank you to everyone, and good luck to anyone aiming for the trip next year!