Sunday, September 23, 2007
Do you have ANY idea what this is? I got up early AGAIN to go with the Sander family to Hjortsöndan. Orienteering is an extremely popular outdoor activity here in Sweden. Basically, here is the jest of the sport. You go out to the forest with several hundred of your closest friends and family. You are given a VERY detailed map, a compass, and a plastic fingerstick sometimes called a dibbler. The object is to race around in the forest looking for these control points. You must go in a specific order (listed on your map) and once you find it put your dibbler in to indicate that you have found the spot. Today since it was my first time they suggested that enter the Ö2. Basically, I'd be racing small girls and old ladies. No problem. A couple of things you should know. They are pretty careful about pollution so the potties are behind a big tarp and a number of 5 gallon buckets are lined up. Pretty funny site seeing a bunch of Swedes sitting on buckets. The showers were even more interesting. The last think is that you are not allowed to race in shorts. Apparently, back several years ago, people were getting really cut up and so after the race when everyone would jump into that lake or shower, there were major outbreaks of Hepatitis. Great! So Par brought me these nice running tights. I was running a race with 8 control points covering a distance of I think around 3000 meters. I was going to try for the brute force approach. Not that great of an idea. At first, I tried keeping my running shoes (my good pair) somewhat clean but that went out the window after about 30 seconds. You are running in mud, swamp, through thick brush, you name it. It was actually quite fun. The Swedes, however, are VERY into this sport. Some events attract 15,000+ people (competing, not watching). My time? 44:32. Originally, I thought I finished 5th but ended up 8th in my category. A good time would have been around 30 minutes or lower. The best guy there, Christian, is one of the folks that I'll be working with tomorrow. He's a younger guy and he is currently ranked 30th or something in the world. He's pretty fast. I looked tonight and found the Utah Orienteering site. Not too popular but I bet JJ would love to try this. Believe me, it is much more difficult than it seems. You can't just start running through the woods. The control points are tricky to find sometimes, and you really need to know how to read a map properly. When I get home, I'll scan my map and post it here. I also found more info on Wikipedia of course. Afterwards, I was quite muddy. My shoes were WAY muddy. Time for a shower. So basically, imagine a big open field, with a big huge tarp on the perimeter with hundreds of boys and men (ages 8 ot 80) all naked and showering with these hoses. It was a bit chilly but try to imagine with crappy snowy cold weather. Thankfully, it wasn't that today. It was actually a pretty nice day. We had some sandwiches afterwards and some fruit. It was really quite the experience.