Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 10 of Youth Squad Tour in Sweden

Not much has happened today considering that I am writing this at 12:00. We did a different kind of Orienteering event at Hellasgården just over the road from the clubhouse. At the start, we played a game of Uno and you would run the 0,9km course when you have no more cards, just as you would do in a normal game of Uno. 


Matthew got rid of all his cards first, then me, then Carl straight away, then Andries, Rory,  Sarah and last and not least Heather. Everyone went to the wrong place at first (except for Carl) for the first control (due to the very small scale of 1:1000) which caused a major hiccup in the ending results depending on how fast everyone realized that they were in the wrong place.

The final results were as follows: Matthew, Carl, me, Rory, Andries, Heather and last but not least Sarah. At the end we got two chocolate, marzipan Swedish cakes. Heather wiped out on the first dock by number 14 and she got a major scrape on her thigh.


Written by James Hancock

Closing remarks (written by everyone)

Memorable moment

AndriesThe time Heather and I was running along trying to find one control and we stepped in mud, me losing a shoe. The mud had pulled my shoe straight from my foot. There I learned how to tighten your shoes properly and that while going through swamps you can lose shoes sometimes.Another memorable moment was the Gamla stan orienteering map and the guillotine in the middle where they hang people's heads when they were killed if they disobey the law.

After running through the old town we got back and two little kids were playing on it. Luckily the view was amazing and we were awed by the entire scenery.

Sarah: Going through the old town roads, alleys, river and cathedral  as it seemed distinctively European and it was historic and beautiful.

Carl: The whole of the tour was a memorable moment in itself. Probably one I won't forget is during our last event Matt and I were the last two people to finish. Otherwise it would be running through the old Stockholm town.

HeatherI don't have a memorable moment because there were so many, so instead I will say my most memorable thing which is making names for each stupid thing we did eg. Doing a Carl is getting very lost, Doing a James is forgetting your bus ticket, an an Andries is losing your shoe in the Marsh. A Matthew is closing your eyes for the photograph, a Sarah is rolling off your mattress and sleeping on the floor and a Heather is going back for seconds (or thirds) when some people are still busy on their first helping

James: The most memorable moments from an Orienteering perspective were doing the three events and running through the first forest behind the clubhouse because that was the first time that we ran in a proper forest. From a non-orienteering perspective, the best moments were going through the Old City, seeing the Royal Family up close (my mom was so jealous), Seeing the different sights that a different country can offer and bonding better as friends.

Rory: It was all memorable

MatthewLearning that they start orienteering at about 10 years of age.

But my best moment was when Carl and I walked a course because we learnt so much about our skills and that trusting your skills are important.
Tania: Having the pleasure of Nick Barrable acting as our guide, coordinator and coach. It was wonderful listening to his stories about the areas we visited and events we were participating. One particular story he shared is the history of the 10mila, and the occasions when OK Ravinen won it. Through his contact we then had the pleasure of meeting Lina, who was one of the clubs stars when they won the trophy. We then had a gentlemen at the Luffarligan bring us a newspaper from the 70s with the story of how the club won it. He explain to Nick,( who translated for me) that he wrote the poem for the wooden message in the year that OK Ravinen won the trophy!

Bev: I loved seeing Sweden from an orienteering perspective - walking through forests, marshy areas, parks, school grounds and the Old City. We experienced snow, sleet, rain and finally sun. We met friendly locals - at club events and competitions. We traveled by air, train, bus and car. We were fortunate enough to see the Royal Family up close ( it was the King's birthday so the Palace was closed to tourists). All in all everything was memorable. Andries singing " everything is awesome, everything is cool when you're part of a team..." will always be a good memory.

Favourite map/ area

Nearly everyone: The map of the old Stockholm town. It was absolutely amazing to run through the old town through the alleys, around the palace, around the cathedral and the Noble museum. It was equally historic and beautiful.

In addition to the old city, I also enjoyed the second map of day two across the road from the club house, as I found it easy to read the map and predict what the circle would look like.

All of the maps were fantastic and especially todays 1:1000 map scale really fooled us. But as a favourite I would choose the map near Gudo on day 4. The map had a huge amount of marshes so you had difficult route choices to make. It also had the widest range of features.

My favourite map was the map we did with the gymnasium school on day 4. I enjoyed the mix between urban and forest terrain and found it very fun to run in.



The map around  the old city and Hellasgården were especially fun, but the map that we did at the last event (day 9) was by far the most beautiful and the most technical.

Day 9, the long event was very scenic and the best terrain I ran in. You could get going fast once you got on top of the hills between the marshes, with great visibility, but you still experienced Sweden, having to plunge knee deep through a  marsh to make the best route choice. Although the coldest day, the map for day 7 at Lissma was also fantastic. The soft, obvious contours were easy to read and there were fun patches of really interesting spongy moss to bounce through.


Orienteering lesson/s
Rory: Learning that the features (e.g. boulder) are drawn differently in SA

SarahI learnt how to read the European mapping style and about reverse attack points. This is where you have an attack point to leave the control, to make sure you are going in the correct direction.

Heather: The thing that I learnt on this trip was that Swedish forests and all other European Forests are very different to South African forests. For one, they aren't plantations but natural wilderness and also there are so many features they only mark a few/ the very big ones. The contours are also a lot more complicated and this helped me to further my contour reading ability.
James: The most important lessons for me were that no matter what country you are in, the map and the mapper will always be different in comparison to what we know. You just have to deal with it, be brave, find your way and determine the difference between a knoll and a boulder.

Another very important lesson is how to orienteer on the offensive and not the defensive. Defensive orienteering is looking at your map constantly unsure of what you have to do, and trying to find the features on the map as you go past them. Offensive orienteering is having a plan on where to go and to know which features you are going to go past before you get there. This technique greatly helped at the last event after I remembered about it after control point 5.

Matthew:  A very important lesson for me was how to orienteer on the offensive and not the defensive. 

Carl: I learnt to rely on and use my skills more. Like using my compass constantly and relocating in an area which was a completely different area from what we are used to.

Andries: These one and a half weeks taught me how to read contours, to just keep going, to not stand still for more than 30 seconds. When you are lost you must keep moving, otherwise you just keep on staring at the same features and your mind can't process anything new. Further,  I also learned how to orienteer while running, Lastly, I have learned that all maps mapping styles and terrain differs all over the world.

Special Thanks to:

Nick Barrable, our Swedish based coordinator and coach, and the generosity of  Ok Ravinen and its members. Without Nick and his club the tour would never have happened!

Tania Wimberley, the local coach accompanying the team.

Beverley Holmes, who ensured our tummies were always full.


2016 Youth Tour Sponsor

Buff SA for sponsoring polar fleece Buffs and keeping us warm.
 Run Bag SA, so we had a place to put the cameras to take all the pictures
 2016 Youth Tour Sponsor

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day 9 of Youth Squad Tour in Sweden

Our training time is almost over and we did a long race today. We started by doing a retake of the traditional jumping photo. Note the sun was finally out!!!

When we arrived at the event there were so many people it looked as if we had showed up for a concert.

Carl, Tania and I ( Matthew) had the late starts around 12:30. Carl and I "decided" that finishing in 3 and a half hours ( the cut off was 2 and a half hours) would be a great idea. I speak on behalf of Carl and I when I say they we were not lost, we just could not find the control because they had already collected them.

When Carl and I got back to our "home" we did not have enough energy to shower so we sat on the floor and showered like that (the lazy man way).

Written by Mathew Siepman

So today we got up at 7:20 making ready for the race. Tania, Matthew, James and myself made our way to Sikla Alle by bus. We waited for about five minutes before Glen, our lift, arrived. We arrived at the event and saw Rory already walking to the start. 

We made our way to the finish and sat down for about half an hour under the South African flag being proud. Heather and I made our way to the start, where again the people were standing in their masses.

 I waited about ten minutes alongside Heather and then she went into the start block and I was alone entering only a minute behind. At the start I found my map and started running like the wind towards the start control, stepping in both streams along the way. I got there first out of my group of  starters and felt confident running toward control nr.1.

H18 long -7.5 km

It was quite easy to find the first control after I followed Nick and Tania's training: "Just keep moving." The scale of the map threw me off entirely, but I managed to adjust. Control 2 was a very long leg and I decided on a route choice that best suited my skills, running the field. It took me a while to find the field, again the scale thing, and I thought I was honestly running in the wrong direction, but "just keep moving" helped and I ended up eventually finding the field and running the nice 1,5 km to the road. I contoured along and found the light green motorhome park. From there I went up the hill and overshot the control by 10 meters. I turned around and found the control just down. I basically ran over the cliff not looking down and luckily another person finding the control pulled me towards it.

From 2 to 3 I dropped down and ran along the light green going uphill when it stopped. I found the hill easily, using the knoll to the side. From 3 to 4 I almost messed up thinking I was running from four to five. I just kept moving forward and luckily I was not that far off. I saw someone trip and fall hard. I saw an opportunity because I was really lost and the map made no sense. So I asked him where I was and he showed me and I realized I was on the long leg. I quickly corrected and kept going my direction and found the marsh. From four to five I ran down the slope and back up on the other side and dropped down again and up and so on until using the marsh with the boulder at the east side to find my control just going up the re-entrant.

From 5 to 6 I just used my compass and ran South as straight as I could. I found the cliffs and contoured around finding the control easily. From 6 to 7 I ran a compass direction using the power lines junction to find my way. I used the marsh and just went around over the hill and found the knoll easily. At the top of the hill there was an animal waiting there. Later I learned it was a grouse but I described it as a black thing with wing making a circle thingy with his head straight up and making weird sounds like "mawamamwanalagaga..."

From 7 to 8 I just used compass and went straight through the marsh and hit the control dead on. From 8 to 9 I went over the hill and jumped the dry ditch between the two big marshes running around the greenish stuff and running through the dry marsh. I was at the control site but ended up being pulled to the left. The mapped started making no sense so I turned around and went to stand back on top of the hill where I was and found the control. From 9 to 10 I ran to the field and ran through the field making a stupid mistake, running over the hill where I might have gone around. I found a photographer and saw the control 50 meters away. From 10 to eleven I dropped down the cliff and again I was 10 meters away from the control when I turned around and went searching back up. I went back and got the control easily after I realized my mistake. From 11 to the finish it was basically following the smiley faces ( from the kids string course) around the river and to the finish. In summary the race went quite good for the state I was in. I was started getting sick yesterday with a runny nose and a cough and felt it in my lungs. Looking at the results I realize how much improvement I need to make in the future. We have great coaches and this tour has taught me a lot. We have improved significantly from where we were just over a week ago. 

Written by Andries Swart

(picture with Lina, who kindly lifted us, and waited for Carl and Matthew)

(most people had left by the time the boys finished)

(still had energy for frisbee, just couldn't catch it!)

Day 8 of Youth Squad Tour in Sweden

This morning we slept in, waking up at around 8 am, because we were only going to have one training session. Breakfast was the mince from the previous night warmed up and ladled onto a piece of toast.

After breakfast we traveled on a bus and a train to Hökarängen, south-west of the OK Ravinen Clubhouse in Hellasgården. We had to travel via the train station in Slussen, to the north-west.
We set up a base camp in the centre of the park. We could hear the trains on the Väsby line to the south-west. The park was the smallest area we had run in. It had many hills and knolls, with large gravel paths in between. There were fewer marshes in the park, so we managed to avoid them all.
We were told by Tania to take one kite and find one control feature to set it up by.

There were eight of us (including Tania), so we each took one of the compass points and set out to find a feature. Cliffs were popular, as four were chosen. When we got back to the central point we showed each other where our control was placed, and provided a control description for it. 

We set out in the opposite direction to which we had first set out, and then completed the rest in a clockwise direction (e.g. I set up my control in the west, so I started with Matthew’s control to the east, and continued to Andries’ control to the south-east). We set up the course before 11 am, and collected the kites just after 12 pm.

After the training we set off South-East towards Farsta, following Heather’s directions. We had lunch in the Farsta Centrum shopping centre. Some of us had Reindeer wraps whilst others tried a variety of tapas.

We left Farsta for Gamla Stan, the Old Town, to visit the royal palace on the North-East corner of the island. We circled around the palace clockwise from the East to the South-East to find an entrance. We were unsuccessful, as the palace was closed that day. However, when we finished the circumnavigation by arriving at the main entrance, we were told to step aside, and we were treated to an unannounced departure of the royal family. They were leaving for an unknown function in a black car with a crown on its registration plate, led and followed by three other black cars filled with security personnel. We were told by a Swedish bystander that we were very lucky to see them.

We decided to head for the palace armoury, which had been converted into a museum in the 70s and 80s. Inside there were three levels of exhibitions. The top floor was a temporary exhibition, and presented exhibits relating to the death of a member of the royal family. Crowns, sceptres and keys of previous monarchs were on display, we found the last razor that one of the kings had used before he had died, and attire from the funeral procession was worn by plastic figures. There were pictures and video clips that showing the exhuming and autopsy of the royal corpses, whose names were predominately Eric, Gustav, Magnus, Karl or Carl. They were found to have met their end in numerous ways, from strokes and cancer to a bullet wound to the head. At the far end of the floor we found a few costumes which King Carl and Guardsman Andries put on.

The ground floor was a permanent exhibition, and it displayed various royal outfits for special functions. There was set of clothes worn by Carl XI when he became king before his fourth birthday, and a military uniform of a more recent king. Suits of plate armour for infantry and cavalry were displayed alongside maces, rapiers, great swords and almost every conceivable weapon from medieval times.
The cellar housed the royal carriages, along with lifelike horses. A child sized carriage and an Austrian sled was shown in the cellar. Information and images relating to the raw silk trade route was shown behind them. After the museum we popped into the Cathedral with its impressive organ.

We then headed for the train station, but we were distracted by an enticing sign advertising Exit Games ( www.exitgames.se ). The seven of us went inside to try rescue Grandma, while Tania and Bev stayed outside to drink some coffee. We had sixty minutes to complete all the puzzles, which mainly consisted of working out the permutations to padlocks through codes, patterns and helpful hints. The lady at the counter described the puzzles as similar to ones in 80's video games. We managed to free Grandma two minutes past the deadline.

We headed home, and while Carl, Bev and Tania refilled their SIM cards with data, we found a geocache under a bridge south of the clubhouse, played cards.

Written by Rory Ellis

Friday, April 29, 2016

Day 7 of Youth Squad Tour in Sweden (Afternoon)

For lunch today we ate our packed lunches and took a long walk to the bus stop. At the bus stop we finished eating and sat down for a long wait before the next bus came. When the bus finally came we got on and started the long drive home.

When we arrived home we quickly changed and grabbed our dirty washing before heading to Nick’s apartment building to replace our foul smelling garments with soft clean clothes, when we sorted the clothes into colours, we worked out how to work the machine (while James, Andries, Rory and Mathew went to change Nicks tyres and sort the recycling) Bev, Carl and I went to go get milk at the shops. When we returned the clothes were washed and drying. We waited in the washing room until all the items were dry (the socks seemed to take the longest surprisingly) packed them and jumped on the next bus home, where we were greeted by more than a hundred people here for the OK Ravinen training.

We packed away our washing and got ready for this evenings training. Tania, Heather, Andries and I ran a mile up to the start and took the orange map and decided to do a quick relocation exercise, in pairs, where we had ten seconds to relocate and start moving to the next control. When Heather and I finished we ran back with Nick and got warm in the girls room with everyone else. After we bought mini chocolate brownies, we migrated downstairs to the boy’s “room”. Where we played Uno with our extra power cards for an hour and a bit before it finally finished. When the club people were mostly gone we emerged from our basement shelter and Heather and I cooked spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. We ate, played a game of paired speed with Uno cards and then went to our bed for some well-deserved sleep.

Written by Sarah Everett 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day 7 of Youth Squad Tour in Sweden (Morning)

We wake up very early for yet another day in a row. This time we had far to travel so we had to get going quickly. We all ate breakfast and packed our bags for another time to make the bathroom tidy for the club training in the evening. We also had to make sandwich and pack lunch for when we were finished training. We then set off under the bridge to the bus stop. As we are about to catch a bus we realize that the bus is going the wrong way and we run across to catch the 840 going the other way. To make matters worse Rory pulled a 'James' and almost forgets his bus ticket. Eventually, after lots of stress, we all made it on the bus and were on the way to our training area.

We caught that bus to Handenterminalen and went to the next bus stop to catch the 865. The time came and went that the bus was supposed to come but the bus didn't. After all of us sitting in the snow, freezing, for about 10 more minutes (after 20 minutes) the bus finally came. We then took that bus to Lissma Skola and then had a 1.5km walk to the forest.

Today was a particularly  exciting day for me because I got to run in my new orienteering shoes with studs (which were also bright luminous colours) that I got from Carl's Orienteering shop yesterday.

The running in this forest was nice because the contours were easy to read and there wasn't too much marsh. We did a control picking exercise where there are lots of controls close together. The first loop we went out and followed Nick, soaking up all information we could. We then set out on our own using the controls shown but making our own routes. Another feature that made this extra hard was the fact that there were no controls out and we had to trust our orienteering abilities to make sure we were at the right spot. We then had to meet at 1 pm at the start to leave. It was very cold so many of us ended up finishing early and putting on warm clothes. We then caught the buses back to tidy up and get ready for a trip to Nick's flat.

Written by Heather Wimberley