Visiting in Finland in spring 2017
On the 24th of April, I arrived in Finland to stay with Nina and Mika Laitamaki and their two gorgeous girls for 2 months! I was so nervous about this big exciting adventure, but scary nerves are the best ones, aren’t they?!
On my arrival, I found out that one of the local clubs in Hämeenlinna, Hämeenlinnan Tarmo, was willing to have me in their club, and incredibly generously, they were willing to sponsor me for the competitions I would run in while in Finland. I was so humbled by this offer and knew that I would love to be a part of the smaller club in Hämeenlinna. In Hobart, my home town in Australia, I am also a part of the smaller club in that area. I always value supporting the smaller ones! Being a part of Hämeenlinna Tarmo was wonderful! I was so touched when I would turn up to competitions and see so many friendly faces greeting me. I felt so welcomed into the club and like everyone really wanted me there and valued me.
During my stay, I competed for Tarmo in 12 different competitions including the Finnish middle champs, the Grano Games, the Venla relay. Though all the competitions were amazing I think the stand out one for me was the Venla relay! I was lucky enough to run 1st leg for Hämeenlinnan Tarmo in Venla. Being a part of the crazy mass start was unreal. I don’t think I’ll forget the feeling of running to the 1st control with hundreds of people around me for a very long time!
I experienced a steep learning curve in my orienteering technique while in Finland but I hope to put to practice all the valuable things I learned about Finnish terrain in JWOC 2017 to be held around the Tampere region.
There are many differences between the orienteering clubs in Australia compared to the ones in Finland. Personally, I could say that the orienteering competitions are a lot more club orientated here in Finland. I really love this culture! It was so nice coming to the races being greeted by a group of smiley Tarmo runners next to the club flag. Of course, the orienteering competitions are a lot bigger in Finland. Orienteering is a lot smaller sport in Australia which makes it very exciting for me to come over and go in races with lots of participants every weekend!
The terrain certainly took some getting used to however now I think I have really adapted and I can orienteer in Finnish terrain a lot better than I could when I first arrived! – My host dad, Mika, could say the same I think ? Another thing I found so special about orienteering in Finland was how incredibly beautiful the forest is. The first few times I got very distracted and felt I couldn’t orienteer well because all I wanted to do was look at all the gorgeous nature around me! In a funny way, being here also makes me appreciate how beautiful the forest in Australia is as well! – I certainly hope to see some of you in Australia one day!
Again, thank you so much for having me and your financial support! A special thanks to Jari, the chairman of Tarmo, for your lovely hugs as I had to say goodbye. Having connections all over the world is something so invaluable. Please know that every single member of Tarmo now has a strong connection with Australia and if you ever find yourself in Hobart, Tasmania, please come and visit me!
I will never forget representing your club and having the privilege of wearing a Hämeenlinnan Tarmo running top for 2 months.
All my love,
Zoe Dowling, Australia