A small contingent of Australians have spent the last week experiencing what one could only describe as an amazing orienteering event! Camped together on the event centre campground (aka large paddock), most of us have shared the following memorable highlights:
- A fantastic fireworks display to celebrate the Swiss National Day,
- An exciting sprint event held in the town centre of Schwyz with a wild thunderstorm for added atmosphere,
- 24 hours of torrential rain on the second day turning the routes between the final controls into mudslides and the campground into a swampland,
- Incredible transportation logistics using buses and army vehicles to reach breathtaking assembly areas and start locations close to 2000m altitude,
- A 2 hour walk to the start with 900m climb, followed by a very technical course on karst pavements, followed by a 900m descent back to the assembly area,
- The long race day with only about 100m climb for most runners, but with the start at 2050m, it included 850m of descent and million dollar views during the race, and
- A middle distance race of only 2km or so for most runners – but in extremely technical, rocky, forrested terrain with low visiblilty.
Disappointingly for the organisers, the heavy rain early in the week also caused rockfall and land slips on the roads to the Day 4 event. This meant a huge re-organisation of the program to swap the Day 4 and 6 events, with organisers hopeful of roads being re-opened in time for the final day. But with more rain forecast for the final day, it was decided to reuse a previous area, with runners advised to BYO pen to mark up maps prior to their start! Only in Switzerland could such chaos be turned into seamless organisation.
Aussies have faired quite well in such challenging terrain, most placing in the top half of the field with the occasional top 10 result!
The Swiss O Week is certainly an event to be included in your ‘must do’ list. The efforts of organisers and course setters to showcase the Swiss mountains has been amazing and the overall event organisation simply superb.