Swedish summer has definitely been in full swing recently, with sensational weather and everyone in holiday mode. Following WOC I had 4 days of work before once again I packed my gear and was on the road for another competition; this time Oringen.
Oringen is easily the best 5 day competition on the orienteering calendar. In previous years, Oringen has fallen after JWOC and so there has typically been a good group of us at Oringen. This year, the NZ contingent was somewhat smaller. Due to JWOC being held in the same week for some reason, none of the juniors could make it across to Sweden. So for this year, it was just the NWOC crew of myself, Rob, Marquita, Gene and Renee who ventured to Skåne, south Sweden for Oringen 2014. For future years, I highly recommend that all NZ juniors should try and make Oringen, so that they can truly experience something that has defined and shaped Gene and I’s orienteering careers thus far. In mentioning JWOC, I would like to congratulate the NZ JWOC team this year for some outstanding performances. Tim Robertson took the third straight medal in 3 years for NZ with a gold in the sprint distance, Nick Hann finally demonstrated why he his one to watch in the future with a brilliant 5th in the middle and finally our relay team could manage three worthy performances to climb on top of that podium! That makes 6 podiums in 4 years for NZ at JWOC!
I travelled to Oringen on the Friday, where I met up with Rob and Marquita. We had a good catch up that evening before our NWOC crew grew to 5 the following day, when Gene and Renee joined us. It felt really good to be surrounded by Kiwis for the week, and will hopefully top up my Kiwi dose for the next months before I return home. I still have no idea about what I will be doing next year, but at least I will be returning home for the world cups in Tasmania.
The Oringen races for me were a mixed affair. I ran H21 Lång, opposed to elites to simplify travel logistics and of course to re-ignite an age old battle between Gene and I. Gene provides a good summary of how the battle evolved over the week here. Unfortunately honours went to Gene after I fell sick after the 3rd stage. The 3rd stage was my best race where I finished in 5th. My race was really good, and I was confident in the NZ-istic terrain (detailed sand-dunes). I wasn’t even going to start the last stage, but I jogged to the start and began my course anyway. I actually felt surprisingly good and I could push after warming up in the first few controls. After racing for 75 minutes I ironically discovered at the finish that I had missed punched and hence I would not register an overall time/placing for Oringen (the first time this has happened to me!). In my sickened and tired state, I pushed too hard up the hill towards the finish and got confused when I saw a control. At the time I felt something was seriously strange, but as is the case when racing under pressure, a stupid mistake resulted. I punched the control that wasn’t mine, and then screwed up the next leg (a white control site). I was not too disheartened though, appreciating the funny side of taking 106 controls over the week then miss punching on the third to last one. Oringen was just a training week for me as I refine my preparations as WUOC draws closer.
If you have not witnessed Oringen first hand, and want to see how epic it is, I would recommend going to the photo gallery for Oringen this year or watch the video from the last stage, featuring some big names.
After a nice weekend travelling back with the NWOC crew, I had a few days of work before we again hit the road. This time to Borlänge to catch up with Lars and KAREN Sjökvist, who basically redefined how coaching was conducted in NZ back in the 80’s. This was another good weekend of training which included consumption of copious amounts of really good food. On the Friday we visited Falun, to experience some Swedish history in the form of the Falu Gruva, they Great Copper Mine and to climb a dizzyingly high ski jump, where EOC was held in 2012. We also travelled to Leksand for one night, where I found some hills to bike/run up, which will be relevant for WUOC. Gene and I smashed out a sick 2 hour run as well, taking in some picturesque views of the Leksand region. Thanks ‘heaps’ to Lars and Karen, and also a huge thanks to Rob and Marquita for a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend away.
Now it is full focus towards WUOC. I hope my shape is good enough but I am quite satisfied with my training through the fragmented summer period. I will be most invested in the middle distance, but running all the competitions (5 in 5 days) will make for a very tough week. Bring it on!