For the first time since its inception, Sweden's week-long orienteering festival, O-Ringen, is offering a full five days of MTBO competition. Sue Grandjean (pictured) and I (Abra McNair) decided to jump at the chance to attend, see what O-Ringen was all about, and get in some good MTBO practice. Just two days in, we've already been blown away by the organization and effort behind this whole event. Coordinating over 12,000 people is not an easy feat!
O-Ringen 2017 is in Sweden's Varmland region, so our first long and middle distance events have included some classic countryside and forest views; one competitor even saw an albino moose on their drive back to Arvika (!!). Out of our first two events, we both preferred the terrain and course setting of the middle. Held in a nordic skiing park, there were many chances to assess the topography while navigating some fun, rocky descents.
The long distance course was relatively flat, but with a distinguished ridge line (sometimes 50 meters high) where the only way down was a rocky path filled with deep sand. The multiple trips down this ridge line made the course no longer as flat. :) Sue had a great race on the middle event, finishing third in the W21 category.
MTBO has only been at O-Ringen since 2011, but is slowly growing in popularity as people realize the challenge of reading maps at a much higher speed. Next year's event should have all MTBO races within a bike ride's distance from O-Ringen City, which will hopefully inspire more people to try it out. Tomorrow is "Activity Day," which gives all participants a chance to try new orienteering disciplines, including MTBO, Trail-O (or Pre-O), a micro maze, and even pairing orienteering with biathlon. We are excited to try as many new things as possible before we are back on two wheels in the forest for the rest of the week.