My Swedish Adventure – Part four

Hi again! Sadly, I’m due to leave Sweden before Christmas so this will be the last piece I share with you about my time in Sweden.  I thought it would be interesting to let you know about 2 pretty special adventures I’ve had while I’ve been here. 

First off is my trip ‘up north’. Many of the Irish orienteers will probably know Anton Hallor from his time working as the development officer in Irish Orienteering last year. Well, what you may not know is that he was also my housemate when we were living in Dublin, so we became pretty good friends. He is now living in a town called Älvsbyn in northern Sweden, so I took this opportunity to go and visit him and explore somewhere new! 

I left Stockholm on the Thursday night on the overnight sleeper train and 13.5 hours later (yes, it took that long!) I finally arrived in Älvsbyn. The weekend was really great; we did a lot of training including two long orienteering sessions and a long trail run, and we had glorious weather, however my favourite part was where we went on the Saturday – the Arctic Circle! 

The Arctic Circle is about a 90-minute drive from Älvsbyn so it was a “must-visit” of the trip. We made the journey in the morning with the aim to do a long trail run in a nature reserve while we were up there, however when we arrived at the nature reserve there was too much snow and ice, meaning my running more resembled Bambi! However, after driving a bit further to somewhere with a bit less snow, we managed to do our trail run in the few hours of sunlight there is that far north and visit the Arctic Circle! I also had a reindeer pizza!! It was such a great opportunity so I couldn’t not do it while I had the chance.  It was a great weekend.

My second awesome adventure was competing in the Stockholm Rogaining event. This is a score orienteering race with a 6-hour time limit, and this year it took place in an area called Paradiset which translates to “paradise” in English. This is very appropriate because the area is an awesome area for orienteering. The rules of the race are that you have to complete it as a team and stay within hearing distance of your teammate at all times. My teammate was good friend, training partner, and IFK Göteborg club member Erica Pettersson. We ended up running in the terrain for 5hr30 and we had a great time. There was a large penalty for not making it back to the finish within 6 hours, therefore we decided to be safe and sacrifice a few more controls to ensure we made it back within the time limit. It was a really fun race and it really showed me that I was more capable than I thought at running for such a long time. It also snowed heavily for the first 30 minutes meaning the terrain had a nice white covering for the rest of the race.  

Due to the COVID guidelines the rogaining this year was a virtual event meaning you could complete it anytime between the middle of November and the New Year, therefore we will have to wait a while to see the results, however I am proud of how Erica and I ran.

Overall, I’ve had an awesome time living in Sweden these last four months but unfortunately it is time for me to come home in a couple of weeks. I will be spending the holidays at home in Scotland before going back to university in Dublin next semester. I will thoroughly miss living with this awesome family and training with the many great friends I have made here, so I hope I can come back again soon!

If you’ve enjoyed hearing about what I have been doing, and think it could be something you would enjoy too, the family are looking for someone to replace me when I go back to university next semester. Find the job advert link here (I really recommend it!):

Kathryn Barr UCDO, Moravian Orienteers and OK Ravinen!

Check out Kathryn’s previous installments here , here and here.

Theres still time to race in the Stockholm (virtual) Rogaine, the event runs until 31st December, so if you’re planning a trip, or are already in the area then here is the link!

My Swedish Adventure- Part 3


When I came to Sweden in August, I was lucky that Sweden didn’t have very many COVID restrictions. Therefore, training and competitions were still allowed to happen as long as groups no larger than 50 people were in one place at one time. This was really good news for me because OK Ravinen had two training sessions a week at that stage; technical training on a Tuesday, and some sort of terrain intervals on a Thursday. Then there were also many local competitions each weekend. In fact, the second weekend I was here I competed in a 3-day competition with over 1000 competitors. This sort of big competition was able to take place because the organisers did a really good job at making it “corona-safe” (i.e. many different starts and finishes, long start periods, and no assembly). It was a really good example of what could be done with a bit of adaptation.

 Throughout August, September and October, I have developed a great routine with training. I had Ravinen training every Tuesday and Thursday, a competition at the weekend, and I would normally be invited to some other form of training during the week. This could have been anything from a run with a friend, to joining in with the training for the elite orienteers in the Stockholm area. In October, Ravinen also started their strength sessions on a Monday evening. 

Swedish Terrain

Unfortunately, at the beginning of November, Sweden’s COVID cases had increased; new restrictions were introduced. Although, in typical Swedish style, these were just recommendations rather than strict rules. The implications of these meant that all club training and all competitions were cancelled. I was really sad about this because I had got myself into a great routine with training, meaning I was feeling really strong in the terrain, and also there were a few competitions left this year that I was looking forward to.

However, it hasn’t ended up being as bad as I expected. Although there is no official club training, I have a good group of friends in the area who have taken the initiative to plan our own group training. So, a small group of us meet (socially distanced, of course!) on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and do our own training. In this training group, there are 17 JWOC or WOC medals, a woman’s 10km PB of 36.16 and a men’s 10km PB of 30.37! So apart from being a very inspiring group to train with, it certainly keeps me on my toes!

Kathryn Barr UCDO, Moravian Orienteers and OK Ravinen!

Check out Kathryn’s previous installments here and here.

My Swedish Adventure- part 2

My Job

Hi again! I hope you enjoyed reading my introduction last week about my time in Sweden. This week, I thought I would let you know about my job and the great people who have taken me in and made me such a part of their family!

I run for OK Ravinen (along with UCDO and my British club, Moravian Orienteers) who are a Swedish orienteering club based in Nacka in Stockholm. I have run for them for 4 years now and have many friends from the club. Along with that, I also know the Nacka area pretty well from being over here on training camps and for competitions. Therefore, the fact that my family lived right on the edge of the Nacka nature reserve and only a 3km cycle from the Ravinen club-hut was perfect!

The family I work for are an Australian orienteering family, both parents ran for Australia in WOC. However unfortunately, they run for IFK Lidingö which is another Stockholm club, and one of OK Ravinen’s biggest rivals. So, they tried to persuade me to switch at the beginning of my visit, but I knew where to keep my loyalties! Their children are 5, 3 and 1.5 and are really cool kids! They are fun, full of adventure, have loads of imagination, and are bilingual (so trying to teach me lots of Swedish). It impresses me so much how they can switch from playing with their friends in Swedish to talking to me in English!

During the week I work about 25 hours which includes dropping them off and picking them up at pre-school, playing with them, and sometimes cooking dinner and helping with bedtime. At the weekends we then do things all together, like going on an “utflykt” (an adventure out in the woods), or just playing around the house. There is always plenty of time for me to go training as much as I like, or to go away to competitions at the weekends.

Kathryn Barr UCDO, Moravian Orienteers and OK Ravinen!

It sounds like a dream job! Check out Kathryn’s previous installment here.

Orienteering in Ireland
Orienteering Ireland, Irish Sport HQ, Blanchardstown
D15 DY62, Ireland