sunnuntai 13. marraskuuta 2016

PWT China Tour & Beijing O-Week

Better late than never, like we Finns are used to saying. Finally I found some time to reflect back to the great ten days I spent in Beijing in the end of October together with 40 or so other orienteers from around the world. I will forever remember all these wonderful people since I possess several group photos of us that we were always asked to line up for wherever we were. Instead of "Smile!" they used to say "I love Beijing O-week" down there ;)

"I love Beijing O-week!"
Before the trip I didn't quite know what to expect. I have never been to a training camp or competition trip knowing that little what was waiting for me out there and, to be honest, it was kind of exciting! I had never been to China, or even Asia, before which added to my excitement. However, I had complete trust to the organizers to take care of everything and they certainly did.
Speculation going on
From the moment I walked through Customs in Beijing airport to the moment I checked-in to return home one and a half weeks later everything from meals and rides to tours and races was organized for us. With a little help from few Czechs the Chinese organizers held high-level competitions in some of the finest parks around Beijing and our lovely local guides made sure we were always at the right place at the right time. We didn't need to stress about being on time and could fully enjoy the events, city, culture, people, and sights. A company called Learnjoy, which is promoting orienteering in China, was a big sponsor for this edition of PWT China Tour and it was a great pleasure getting to know their representative as well as business more closely. In competitions we were using a punching system developed by them and I'm sure everyone found it a realiable and fast alternative to better-known SportIdent and emit! I wonder when we will see this system being used in Europe for the first time...

Punching the finish line at the first stage of Beijing O-week
 As I said, the races were of high-level and run in great surroundings. It was a lot of fun racing in environments we didn't know by heart already at the starting line. In three out of the five events we took part to we knew simply nothing what was about to come. That's something I enjoyed and I would have enjoyed even more if only I had been able to race even close to my own level. But this has been the case throughout the season, mostly due to overtraining in the spring, and although I was a bit dissapointed in my shape I was somehow expecting everything to turn out the way it did.

Temple of Heaven
Beside competing we had time to check the obligatory Unesco World Heritage sites: the Great Wall, Forbidden city, Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. The architecture is really beautiful and the grandeur of these places spectacular and I'm happy to have been to these sites. However, I'm already looking very much forward for my next visit to get a chance to see more lesser-known sights and get to know the local lifestyle better.

Summer Palace
 The best thing about the trip was definitely the fact that we were able to be so much more in contact with the other athletes than we are ever able to in international races in Europe. I'm so glad I had the chance to be part of this and I won't hesitate a moment if I only get a chance to join another time. First the phrase we were told to say aloud in every group photo felt forced but towards the end of the week I realized that I do love Beijing O-week!

PS. Remember to check the awesome video of Beijing O-week made by the organizers!