Kat takes on the Swedish O-Ringen

Arena 1

Arena 1

Posted: Thu 5 Sep 2019

This is the first report from a 'roving' BASOC member abroad in the summer of 2019

In the midst of school prelim revision in January, I decided that I needed some motivation in the form of a holiday so I booked flights out to Sweden with the intention of heading to O-Ringen. For those who don’t know, O-Ringen is the biggest multiday orienteering event in the world, which happens every year in a different part of Sweden. This year ended up with 20,000 entries, so I knew I was in for a treat!

So I flew out to Stockholm and made the trip to Norrkoping, Kolmarden the day before racing began. I was camping with fellow BASOCer Jess with the rest of Domnarvets, our Swedish club. I was racing in the D18 class, meaning I had 2 days of racing, a rest day, then 3 more races. After going round one of the training areas the day before Stage 1, I felt fairly at home in the terrain - parts of it feeling vaguely similar to Scotland!

Stage 1 was a warm-up day for me as everything was a very new experience for me! After arriving on one efficiently run shuttle buses, we headed through the area to find our club base… About 20 minutes later we eventually found it in amongst the hundreds of clubs there, thankfully I had a late start time! I then proceeded to my start, which to my amazement was one of 8, each determining your run in lane at the finish. My game plan for my first race was to take it steady and no mistakes to build confidence for the coming days. Despite a few big hesitations I managed this goal and came 29th, and not far off the top girls with a clean run so was happy with this.

Stage 2 was my earliest start of the week, with me beginning my course at 8:30… I can confirm that that is far too early a start for me as all my navigational skill went totally out the window. I made some horrendous mistakes, and didn’t trust myself at all. I didn’t eat or drink much either, so felt physically poor also - not ideal! So after my 29th place the day before, I came 131st. Oops!

After the second stage we had club fika, where everyone from Domnarvets put their tables in a big line down the middle of the tents/caravans and had dinner together; thankfully those around me mostly spoke English so I could follow the conversations!

Next up was the rest day for all except the elites, who had to run the infamous O-Ringen sprint! This sprint event was around the town adjacent to the campsite, so many competitors walked across to spectate and cheer on the runners! This was the first day of the Swedish heat wave, so I was glad to not be running, and started the day off with a swim in a nearby lake. Afterwards I explored the town with a group of Brits, cheered on the runners, had ice cream and won free chocolate bars from a supermarket stand - a brilliant day out :) Big shout out to Grace Molloy of FVO who just can’t seem to get enough medals this summer by winning the W20E sprint stage - legend.

Stage 3 was my longest race, however I was feeling raring to go again. Picked up the map and was pretty gutted to see a massive grind of a leg to #1- no nav, all speed (not to my strengths!). Was really hot for these last few races, at over 30 degrees, which I wasn’t massively prepared for given our summer weather! Committed well to my routechoices however, and got the fastest split on the tricky downhill leg so some definite positives in there.

Stage 4 was the middle race of the week, a welcome rest. The final details and commentary warned us of a tough course so went into it fairly cautious. Was a really fun course on a cool area, however I couldn’t seem to move faster than a plod so finished with a poor time. Again the heat got the better of me, but really enjoyed the race :))

Stage 5 was a different set up to the other days, as it was a chasing start. This means that my start time was determined by my total time behind the winner over the four previous races. Because of my disastrous second day, I started far down from the leader and didn’t really expect to have anyone around me to push me on. After an absolute trek to the start kite (basically straight up a cliff) I went off hard to drop those around me, getting a nice wee gap. However my nav was scrappy so made a lot of wee time losses, but caught up a good group of girls on my course. On the long leg I was feeling really dehydrated and tired, so decided to stop at the water point that the others ran past. Then proceeded to royally mess up the next control by being ahead of myself and running a leg which was actually 2 legs ahead… only realised this once I’d slid down some massive crags so decided to just keep going and take the mispunch. I never went into O-Ringen results focussed, just for the experience so didn’t feel like I’d gain any benefit from the massive grind up those crags again!

Finished feeling shattered and a little disappointed, however really enjoyed all the races, so can’t complain! Would HIGHLY recommend O-Ringen to anyone who’s looking for a cool O-race to hit up next summer. Top-class courses, plenty of competition, brilliant terrain, great atmosphere and honestly just such an amazing experience (Uppsala 2020 will be brilliant, the maps look mad!). The week finished off with Sixth Stage, the last night party, before heading to Stockholm fuelled on 3hrs sleep, choccy milk and cashews.

Once in Stockholm, I spent the week with Moravian member Kathryn Barr in the OK Ravinen club hut, where we trained, swam and saw the sites of Stockholm. The club hut is surrounded by insane terrain, with hundreds of maps lying around we had access to some top-class training (might see a report from Izzy about her 2 weeks here?!). It’s no surprise to see Ravinen members doing so well with everything on their doorstep (Gustav Bergman anchored the winning team at this years WOC in Norway). This was a great week to terrain-appreciate, meet some seriously nice & welcoming orienteers and fuel our love for orienteering- still buzzing from it! Again would massively recommend literally anyone to visit Stockholm, proper scandi buildings in between all the scandi skog- what’s not to love?!

Big thanks go to Domnarvets for being so welcoming and helpful throughout O-Ringen. Also shoutout to the fellow Brits at O-Ringen who looked after me throughout the week and successfully kept me awake on the train with some excellent JWOC chat xx Final thanks go to Ravinen for putting us up for the week in their brill hut, and being super duper helpful, from cooking us dinner to recommending good swim spots- all v much appreciated!

See ya next year Sweden :))