The ladies’ elite class at O-Ringen is providing the most drama at the moment.
Kristen Löfgren Johansen from IFK Mora is in fourth place, but only 2 minutes 36 seconds behind Anna Närhi.
The closest runner to the Finn from Jyväskylä? Simone Niggli, the orienteer with the world’s longest and best track record. Expect the Swiss runner to have another O-Ringen podium on Friday.
But Tuesday evening in Örnsköldsvik was definitely Anna Närhi’s. The sprint race started up at the Skyttis sports ground, and finished in the town square, in front of thousands of spectators. People were scattered all over the map, and in wonderful weather, Närhi took a victory of 27 seconds – outclassing the rest of the field.
The audience saw Närhi punching the finish control and then celebrating. She was obviously happy, and stretched her arms up in the sunny weather.
“I started quite hard and did not really think I would be fast, but the spectators really helped me.” said Närhi after getting her breath back.
“I felt this in the body…I know I’m in good shape, but… I’m still surprised. Now I’ll celebrate by eating cake!”
We can imagine that the victory felt extra significant for her, in addition to a prize of SEK 4000.
In a week, next Saturday, the World Championships sprint will be held in Latvia, with Anna Närhi as one of the Finnish squad. It is interesting that she still expects to complete the whole O-Ringen, even though many others in the world elite have chosen not to come to O-Ringen, or, like Olav Lundanes, to go home after the first two stages.
The men’s elite class was won by seven seconds, by Emil Svensk from Stora Tuna.
“I have been training a bit for this. I hope it will be automatic when I’m running the World Championships in a week, but I have not done any familiarisation with the area,” Svensk said.
Friend and competitor Ludvig Åhlund set the courses. Almost the whole race went on roads and through parks, but first hundred meters passed through a wooded area, which bothered sprint specialist Emil Svensk a little bit.
“I was a little surprised at the start when standing on a hill in the forest, but Ludvig had done well. It was technically clever and I could probably save a few seconds if I had a perfect race,” he said.
Hagaby GoIF runner Martin Regborn came in second, by seven seconds. Regborn, who will only run the sprint race at O-Ringen, will run the sprint and long distance at the World Championships.
On Tuesday he made some small but crucial mistakes in the park on the way to the run through.
“It was a strong run by Emil. I thought if he had a good race it will be hard to beat him,” he said.
In third place was Ruslan Glebov from OK Ravinen, 13 seconds behind the winner. In the men’s elite class overall, Magne Daehli leads Leonid Novikov and Albin Ridefelt.