Start. Photo: Göran Johansson
The favorite teams for the event were Tampere Pyrintö, which always tends to be among the top teams, last year's number four Domnarvet and the winner from 2010, IFK Lidingö SOK. The latter believed they had a good chance this year because they know this terrain and to tip them as winners again this year does not give much money back. As always the women's relay offers great excitement, and with many talented runners entering, leading to a thrilling final battle with several teams as potential winners.
Course setter Gunnar Lang from Skarpnäcks OL has chosen to have a lot of differing loops, which will make orienteering technique the determining factor. He says the first to the fourth legs allows for no fewer than 32 different variants of courses.
The first leg ended in just over 7 km with a prestigious victory for Finnish Paimion Rasti 1, with Täby OK, just seconds behind and one of the favorites, Domarvet opened well with a third place.. The first five places were within minutes, placing the ultimate winners, Tampeeren Pyrintö as the 5th team. A further 1 minute covered the next 25 teams.
Domnarvet went well and after leg two Lena Eliasson brought up the team to the lead just over 1.30 in front of Finnish Koovee, which in turn had a margin of nearly a minute to OK Hällen. The field had now spread out more, but the first ten teams are still only 5 minutes apart. Tampereen Pyrintö had now advanced into 4th place.
Even the straight third leg went well for Domnarvet, and they had now extended their lead to nearly 2.30. Tampereen Pyrintö had moved into second place, followed by a pack of runners including. OK Kolmården, Södertälje-Nykvarn, Kaleva Rasti, Stora Tuna, Hellas, Täby, Hällen, Skogsfalken, Linkoping, Sävedalen, Linné, Koovee, MS Parma and another Linné team all in the space of less than a minute.
Leg four came, and the tension was high at the last exchange, where Domnarvet was still in the lead, but a strong Tampereen Pyrintö was now only 15 seconds behind. The distance to the hunting IFK Lidingö SOK was then almost another 3 minutes. Looks like we will have an exciting last leg!
And exciting it was. The crowd in the stadium could follow the runners on both television controls and a web-TV, and it soon became clear that it was the Finnish girls that would take the victory today. Last leg runner Anni-Maija Fincke was unchallenged, and reached the finish three minutes before the 2nd IFK Lidingö SOK and another minute before third-placed Domarvet. Other members of the winning team, contributing to the victory were Venla Niemi, Riina Kuuselo, Heidi Haapasalo and Saila Kinni.
Congratulations Tampereen Pyrintö for the victory and hope for a Swedish revenge at the Venla relay in June!
Victory for Tampereen Pyrintö. Photo: Göran Johansson