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SM natt gold 🥇


SM in night orienteering was decided on a warm night from 12th to 13th May outside of Malmkoping. I have a habit of not going into the details of competition too early to save the emotional energy for the race itself and not getting too excited too early, but when I looked at the old map, I started to look forward to the championship much more. The forest seemed to be a paradise for orienteering - no roads, lots of small open hills looking similar to each other. The terrain required undivided attention, concentration t every second, work with a compass, line orienteering process from object to object - I thought it suited me well. Add on that you only see a 50-meter corridor with your lamp, and here you have a demanding environment for a challenging course.


Even though I don't like knowing competition-specific details too early (those stated in PM), again, to not become stressed beforehand, I prepare technically for important races a lot. The way I do it is by first finding previous orienteering courses on that terrain (if they exist) and analyzing them. My goal with that is to try to find the best orienteering strategy for that terrain and see where people have made mistakes and try to understand what can be the challenges. For Natt SM it was clear that it would be good to run on tops, but that they, at the same time, can all mix and lead to a parallel mistake, if losing focus for a bit. The conclusion I made from this was that my orienteering process will rather be detailed, from object to object, than defining a separate object and running to it, because in that terrain it is difficult to define a so much different object.



On the race day, I felt calm and even couldn't believe it was SM tonight. It was a usual work day with office meetings and a short morning run. I started to feel excited when got to the quarantine and saw familiar faces. I love talking to people before the start, but the last 45 minutes are very important for me to be alone with myself. I need my routine, not feeling any hurry, and a quite long warm up. During the warm up I repeat to myself my plan for the race. It can be just repeating the algorithm of my actions: I will take a map, see the first leg, check what the control stands on and find an attach point, choose the route towards it, divide it into logical parts, take direction, run. Apart from that I also always have a mindset of starting accurately, rather too safe first 2-3 controls, to understand the map and the terrain, find my flow, and, most importantly, get confidence.


The course started technically right away, but with my tactic to find the flow on the first legs, it all worked out well. Even if the details were equally small, I tried to distinguish for myself the reference objects I would attack controls from and rely on during the longer legs. Another strategy I use when there are so many details on the map is to mentally remove "layers" from the map. For example, If I need to cross a big hill with many stones on it, or if I need to orienteer on a slope with lots of stones, but my point is in a re-entrance, I will remove the layer of stones in my head from the map and not pay attention to them. It helps you concentrate on the right things, can prevent mistakes when noticing an irrelevant object and trying to find it instead of orienteering from the other type of objects, and increases your speed because sometimes we slow down when trying to read every detail when it is not needed. Here I tried to use this strategy when possible (e.g. legs 1-2-3, 4-5), not forgetting to switch back to line orienteering when closer to the point.



The first very difficult point on the course was number 7, where a runner hit the micro-relief area in the young green forest after crossing the darkest green color after the road. It is dangerous because we hit this area perpendicularly and do not know where we enter it. That is why I choose to decide beforehand that I am going to enter it more to the left (in this case) so that once I go out of the green, I know that my control is more to the right from me. It gives me both an understanding of which direction to move in and the space to find an object to find myself on the map for sure. That is exactly what I did - crossed green with the most possible straight line so that I appeared on the left of the red line, then ran more to the right, saw cliffs, and was sure where I was.



Apart from such situations, crucial on the course appeared to be micro route choices - how you ran specific segments on the legs: straight on just with the compass on the long leg without spending time on orienteering until the marsh/road; around by the road and along the hill to the exit point of the butterfly; around by the road but then straight onto the hill to number 20. I say segments because I usually divide legs into parts where I think of the best way to run each part of the leg. And the route choice strategies can differ among the different parts of one leg. Like to number 9 and 20. What is important to do in such situations - say to yourself where you are going to switch your type of orienteering (after which object) and not forget to completely switch it: the pace, the way you orienteer, which objects you read, and not just continue with the routine.


To wrap up, natt SM provided a fantastic playground for true technical orienteering, where concentration and orienteering technique was required every meter, and everything was decided on the very last controls. I felt that my race went stably controlled the whole way from start to finish and I think that is exactly what allowed me to win - not hurrying and exceeding the pace of your thinking, but following your plan and adjusting your algorithm to the challenge at the moment.


Photos: Hugo Matts for Svensk Orientering, Lars Ronnols.


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