Monday, March 25, 2013

Settling in with OK Linné

Greetings from Uppsala, Sweden! This is my new home, at least for the next three months. I have taken the semester off from university to travel, enjoy life, and most importantly, to orienteer! So far my journey has included a month in Spain with my parents, doing competitions and trainings organized by (an orienteering travel company, who set up training centres, organize event entries, and even lead a 3-day orienteering tour through Morocco!). I then relaxed for a few days in London before attending a competition in Denmark, and finally heading over to Uppsala, where I have now settled in with a lovely host family.

I chose to come here because I wanted a place where I could train with others on challenging terrain, as well as gaining the cultural experience of living in another country. And if I want to orienteer abroad, why not go to Scandanavia, the homeland of orienteering? OK Linné, the club that I have joined here in Uppsala, has many fast, young orienteers, including other foreign orienteers who have come here to train. The club is very active, with scheduled trainings 3-5 days per week, plus a “training bank” on the OK Linné website, where members can post their own training plans so that others may join in. All of this makes it a great group to be a part of.

The club has a full schedule!

There is plenty of forest in and around Uppsala; the terrain is basically flat with marshes, open forest, and many small contour details. It looks very challenging to navigate.

I had my first taste of the terrain last Tuesday, when I attended the popular “Tisdagbana” (Tuesday course) – a mass-start, night line-o. We jogged to the start as a group, then suddenly everyone took off! I tried to keep up with the other girls but eventually the group dispersed as people went at their own pace and split off in different directions for different course lengths. It was mostly on trails and paths, with some sections through the terrain. This made the navigation fairly simple, especially since I was almost always with other orienteers, so my goal was just to keep up with whoever around me (avoid ending up alone in an unfamiliar, dark, cold forest!).

This week's Tisdagbana routes.

Everything was covered in snow, so features didn’t show up very well. I had a blast though. Running with others both allowed and motivated me to run faster than I would have on my own.

After the training we returned to the clubhouse (they have their very own clubhouse!) for an informal social gathering and snacks. There seems to be a lot of “club spirit” in OK Linné.

The clubhouse (photo by Erik Melin, from

Another perk of training in Sweden is the extensive number of events. There are local and regional competitions basically every weekend, if you are up for a little travel (which is quite manageable compared to travelling across Canada for events). I will be jumping right in with a training camp next weekend in Blekinge, in the south of Sweden. I will travel by minibus with 17 other club members, for a relay, two individual races, and four trainings (5 days).  The camp should be jam-packed with orienteering goodness, and I look forward to getting to know my new club-mates too.

It is exciting to get to experience a new side of orienteering by training with such a large (and high level) club. I have been lucky enough to travel to a diverse range of orienteering events throughout Europe and North America over the past few years, and I find that each new experience gives me different perspectives on the sport.  As my dad has taken to telling me, “you are a sponge.” Each new event or training has an effect on me. I have been learning by exposure – to new terrain types, to new ways of training, to elite competitors, to complicated looping and forking systems, to travel and accommodation procedures, …the list goes on. It has also been a lot of fun to orienteer in different settings. So even though it is a bit scary for me to be in a new place now, trying to make friends and find my way around, I trust that I will enjoy my time here, as well as expand my skills and experience.


  1. Wow, sounds like you're having a great time, Kerstin. Look forward to hearing more of your adventures!

  2. Thanks Kerstin. Great post. What a super opportunity!