43rd Varsity Match, Hellasgarden 2014



OUOC on the rocks In 2002, Leeds United were in the Premier League, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France and Nick Barrablesson organised the Varsity Orienteering match in Hellasgården near Stockholm, Sweden. 12 years is a long time in the sporting world, but some things never change.

The notoriously tricky Swedish terrain had frightened off all but twelve members of OUOC who, by plane, train and bus, made their way to Stockholm in early April. Except for one person, who presumably hired a car from Avis and is still waiting for it.

Four days of training began at the deep end as we joined in with the OK Ravinen technical session, planned by Junior World Champion Gustav Bergmann. Somehow we all made it out of the forest before night fell.

The following day we turned up to the Luffarligan, a series of regular local races. Fortunately the results don’t include the age classes and genders of the Swedish competitors. In the afternoon we returned to yesterday’s training and didn’t get quite so lost.

On Wednesday evening an intrepid few joined in with the SUH3 weekly run. Fortunately Bone Stevensson arrived just in time to make the bus, as he is clearly a drinker with a running problem. It is hard to report on the rest of the evening without descending into a level of innuendo that Sports Fed might not approve of.

The week just kept getting better as Nick took us to Paradise on Thursday. We were clearly improving as only one person was too late back to make the return bus. The evening provided a chance to see some of the sights of Stockholm; all the museums were shut by the time we arrived, but the wide range of transport options afforded by the SL travel card provided more than enough entertainment.

The mood became serious on Friday as our eyes turned towards Saturday’s Varsity Match. After a final training session on the model area, all that was left was to decide the start order. Following an in depth analysis of the possible scenarios arising from every permutation of OUOC and CUOC runners, we settled on exactly the same order as we had started with. Time well spent.

To say that the races did not go particularly well for Oxford would be an understatement. Fortunately the strength of the Men’s team was such that, despite our top three having a bit of a shocker, we took the overall win by 10 minutes, a good run from Captain Carl Boot Countrysson making up our 4th counter. The result extends the Men’s winning streak to a (male) record of 7 consecutive Varsities, and means that next year they could achieve parity in the head-to-head record.

The Women’s race was a different story, as Cambridge won by a margin that made their Boat Race defeat on the River Thames look like a photo finish. Fair play to them, we’ll be back next year though.

Full results and splits can be found on Eventor. Whilst clearly the results were disappointing, the effort put in by every single person, both in training and the races, could not be faulted. In particular it was fantastic to see so many beginners, some of whom had barely picked up a map before, braving the Swedish forest and coming out alive.

There was also a relay race on Sunday.

The Orienteering may have finished but there was still one more competition left. In the early evening four teams gathered outside the OK Ravinen Pavilion, batting line ups decided, and set about their task. Oxford set the early pace, Louthsson and Parkinsonsson sharing a strong opening stand on a fast wicket (2.8%/500ml) before retiring injured. Dark horse Alex Vaisson continued where they left off but following his dismissal the run rate began to slow. Cambridge came back into the contest thanks to a fine innings from Safkasson, whilst the experience of previous Scandinavian tours began to show in the JOK squad. With the pressure mounting and the pitch deteriorating Oxford suffered a middle order collapse. Their openers returned to the stumps in an attempt to stem the tide, but in the end the alumni cruised to victory. Finally, a late flurry of boundaries was unable to prevent Masonsson pushing CUOC over their target with a single on the last ball of the innings, leaving Oxford in 3rd place. DrongO’s final total had to be calculated by the Duckworth-Lewis method after bad light stopped play.

We then all headed under the road for the banquet and presentations. Cambridge kindly offered to carry most of the trophies back to England as they brought them over in the first place and we didn’t have any luggage space left. The food was excellent, and the wine started flowing.

Returning to the club hut the party really got going. It was refreshing to see all four clubs getting along so well, despite the rivalries, and the number of people still on the dance floor at 3.30am is testament to the fact that we can actually be quite fun sometimes. Some people had a busy Monday ahead though so decided to Finish their night early.

As Pavlov’s dog salivates at the ringing of a bell, Orienteers have been conditioned, by the White Rose and BUCS weekend, to go running at the first sign of a hangover. The group jog served the dual purpose of getting everyone out of the hut so it could be cleaned and filling the gaps in everyone’s memories of the previous night.

The efficiency of the Swedish public transport ensured that the journey home went smoothly, as the grey drizzle of London Gatwick marked the end of yet another season of University Orienteering. Except that is for one weary traveller who found the Norwegian trains too comfortable and slipped into an unintential slumber. Failing to disembark in Oslo, the scene of an important conference that day, he continued a further 35 minutes down the line to Drammen before awaking, presumably to the sound of his ringing phone.

This may have been a long report, but the list of people to be thanked deserves to be even longer. Firstly, to OK Ravinen for letting us use their club hut, areas and maps, for letting us join in with their training and for giving lifts back after Tuesday’s session. Thanks also to all those from JOK, DrongO and Ravinen who helped plan the courses, man the start, hang controls, collect controls, and all the other jobs I’ve surely forgotten. Thank you to David Roach for the Champagne and JOK for the port, although any suggestions on removing the latter from a white shirt would be gratefully received. And of course, thanks to CUOC for ensuring we didn’t go hungry!

Finally, most importantly, thank you to Nick for organising the whole week. Same again in 2026?

Last Updated: Tuesday, 01-Oct-2019 22:46:25 BST
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