The weather was still hot and O-Ringen was still pumping. Stage 4 of this year’s O-Ringen was my favourite stage, but for all those how lost lots of time in the first few controls it may be have been their least favourite. The map featured some very detailed areas of re-entrants, rocks and cliffs as well as some very fast beach forest. I ran a very disciplined race through the first 5 controls and didn’t make many errors putting me in 10th place.
I gained another 2 places on the long leg to 6 but had some issues on the way to 7 starting with the drinks point being in the wrong place. I was pretty flustered on 7 and 8 as I struggled to get my focus back. I freaked out a bit on 9 and took the safe option. I saw the control from a distance but was getting confused and though that it was definitely not mine. After relocation I had more trouble in the rough terrain and lost a bit more time on the way to 10 and 11. I got caught up by a fast Swede at 12 and followed him for a few hundred meters. I used this opportunity to relax and got back into my navigation leading him to 13 and staying clear until I made a small mistake at 17. I was clean for the rest of the course but still never saw him again.
I finished 18th on the stage which was my best result so far. I lost a few minutes in the middle of the course but my running was much stronger and I was able to push through the denser areas more aggressively than in the previous stages. Matt was sick on this day and so ran quick slowly meaning I would beat him overall.
Stage 5 was on the least Swedish area I have ever been on in Sweden. It was all continental beach forest very similar to a lot of central Europe including where I will be racing in Czech Republic in 2 weeks’ time. Of course with any good 5 day competition the last stage will be an intense chasing start based on overall times from the 4 previous stages. I started in 22nd place less than 22 minutes off the leader and 9 seconds behind another runner and also with another runner close behind me. Most of the course was pretty easy but the pressure of racing side by side with other runners caused to me make some hasty decisions. I ran away from my pack which grew to 6 runners on 4 occasions but made mistakes and was caught on the first 3 times. I finally broke away on the way to 13 and stayed clear to the finish to claim 21th. This is my best performance at O-Ringen and I feel like I will be ready to tackle the elite class next year.
It was such an amazing feeling to come over the hill at the last control to see thousands of people screaming. The hilltop view over the ocean was surreal and I think the organisers this year had some amazing ideas which I was lucky to be a part of. The O-Ringen week really is an epic one and I encourage everyone from New Zealand to add it to their travels in Europe. Weeks like this have made the biggest difference to me as an orienteer and I look forward to racing O-Ringen again next year.
This is a must see video filmed on stage 5 this year.