Johan Hallgren - My best memory from orienteering

Course setter Johan Hallgren shares a memory that represent all the unexpected that can happen during an orienteering race!

In 1989, 10-mila was held in Bogesund, close to Vaxholm north of Stockholm. I was running for Örkeljunga FK and I was going to run the 4th leg, which was a night leg. Our team was hardly one of the best, we were happy if we were top 50, and for me, who has learned how to orienteer in Gotland, 10-mila was the ultimate challange. My teammates had done a really good job, and when I ran out in the dark I was 30 seconds behind the leaders and there were about 40 teams ahead of me. The begining of the course wasn’t that tricky, but the second half was really hard.

As usual, the speed was high, and you see different people because of the forking. Up until control 5 (nr 45) I had done a good race and control 6 (nr 52) was a hard one, with no other option than running straight at it. The runners around me hadn’t been that offensive in a while and I saw no one ahead of me. My plan was to run straight at it, and my last ”check point” was the stream halfway. We kept going, no one ahead, eyes on the compass. It took a while and we didn’t see the stream, but I kept running in the right direction, and then I see a control and think that that might help me figure out where I am. I accidently look at the number, and it is mine! I shouted “Damn how lucky I am” which is what they hear on the radio when the first runners came to the 6th control on the 4th leg. My mother, who was at home in Visby listening, almost died from all the excitement.

I have no idea that we are in the lead and as we get closer to the finnish I only see one runner. We take control after control and hear the pre-warning, “the first runner are on their way”. It’s with joy and pride I’m running towards the finnish line as the first team at the 4th leg at 10-mila 1989. I never became as good as I wanted to but I belive that the joy you feel when you exceed yourself is the same, wether it is in the world championchips, a local competition or at the 4th leg of 10-mila in Bogesund.

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