Monday, July 27, 2015

Terrain, maps and courses at O-Ringen 2015

    O-Ringen was my first big orienteering event in Sweden and it certaintly lived up to the great orienteering that Scandinavia is famous for. 

        For most of the days, the terrain was composed of fairly runnable, forested hills. Mossy rocks and blueberry bushes covered the ground. The hills were divided by marshes which required much physical strength to run through as they could be deep, muddy, and filled with vegetation. There were also some greener sections that were very challenging to navigate within due to their limited visibility. Because of the massive number of participants at O-Ringen (see Tori's post about the spectacle that is O-Ringen), many elephant tracks existed on almost every route choice. This could be a good thing because it packed down the moss on the hills, making it easier to run along and also caused there to be less other vegetation in the way; however, in the swamps this worsened the runability because it would churn up the muck, making for some particularily mushy sections that orienteers could easily get stuck in or fall down into. There were also lots of rock features scattered about the hills.
        Some of the days also included a wide range of paths from large gravel roads to small single tracks, as well as meadows, cut lines, small areas of private property, clearcut areas, small lakes or larger hillsides. 

        The format of the event for most classes involved two longs, a rest day, another long, a middle, and a final long in the format of a chase start. In my category (D18E), alll maps were 1:15,000, with the exception of the middle at 1:10,000. This was challenging because I train and race much less frequently on 1:15000 maps then any other scale and also becasue the terrain was very detailed. Relocation, if needed, also presented a challenge because many of the hills, surrounded by marshes and dotted with rocks, looked quite similar. 

        The first race was probably the most technical of any of the long races, and maybe even the middle. It was very, very challenging. There were fewer trails then the other stages, and also very complex contour details involving many knolls and small form-line hills. Additionally, fallen trees, marked as a green line (half of the distinct tree 'X' symbol) were scattered across the map. 
        The second race had mostly larger, broader contour features, and more trails, especially in certain areas where indistinct cutline-like trails criss-crossed all over the hillsides. The vegetation was quite distinct and useful for navigation.
        The third race started off in similar terrain to the previous days, but continued gradually into areas with steeper hillsides and finished wth a couple controls in a dark green area with plenty of rocks. 

      The fourth race finished similarly to the third, since they were at the same arena, but started off with some particularly fun navigation, running between especially complex contour areas surrounded by featureless marshes. 

        The final stage started with some very tough physical climb (that could partially be avoided depending on route choice), ran through a technical area, and finished with many controls on a large, fairly featureless hillside before crossing over a river, then quickly along a paved area and into the arena. 

      All and all, O-Ringen provided challenging terrain that common themes between the maps but was still diverse enough to be quite interesting. The courses were quite difficult but lots of fun anyways. I look forward to racing O-Ringen again someday!

Emma S.

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