New challenges, new perspectives and new motivation

In the year 2017 I did not have much success in orienteering but instead the year was full of new experiences for me. It was the first time I had to get a screw into one of my bones, first time I was an expert commentator for orienteering, first time I went on a canoeing trip with crutches and the foot in a cast, first time I was in Tanzania, first time I had to teach biology to a class of 45 students who did only partially understand English and first time I was at an altitude above 4500 meters above sea level.

2017 started with many challenges for me. I got a stress fractur in my left femur in the fall of 2016, so in the beginning of 2017 I struggled to get back into shape for the start of the season. I had a lot of other small injuries during the spring, mostly some acute ones, like tear of muscle fiber and twisted ankle. This was very frustrating to me, because I really wanted to compete. But I tried to keep the motivation high and did a lot of alternative training. It luckily payed off and I started competing again in May. My shape was better than I thought and it all started to look brighter… just until I twisted my foot (on a path! not even in the terrain) during a world cup race in Finland. I broke a metatarsal bone in my foot and it had to be put in cast. This was a really tough one to accept. I had just fought my way back and was now facing a new and very long rehabilitation period. And I could just as well forget all about the plans I had for the summer (because they did of course involve a lot of running and orienteering!).

My first competition in 2017: selections races for WOC 2017 (photo credit: WOC2017 organizers).
My first competition in 2017: selections races for WOC 2017 (photo credit: WOC2017 organizers).

Unfortunately, the two pieces of my bone didn’t want to find each other so they had to be put together with a screw. This prolonged the time I had to be casted and go around with crutches. Luckily, I got pretty good with the crutches and in the end, I was able to walk 2 km without breaks. It maybe doesn’t sound like much, but it was actually very tough! I tried not to let the crutches stop me from doing too many things and I was e.g. on a canoeing trip where I slept in tent. During the summer I did not feel motivated for training. The way back to being one of the best orienteers in the world seemed very long after 10 weeks with the foot in cast. Fortunately, I had something very good to look forward to: 3½ months in Tanzania together with my boyfriend, Søren.

Enjoying the Danish summer despite a broken foot. (photo credit: Jonas Munthe)
Enjoying the Danish summer despite a broken foot. (photo credit: Jonas Munthe)

I took time off study to go to Tanzania to teach at a local government school in the town Karatu in the northern part of Tanzania. After many years of training and studying in Aarhus I needed new experiences, and for sure I got that. It was a very big challenge to teach because many of the students didn’t understand English very well and most of them didn’t have books. I really had to be patient and creative in my teaching and I learned a lot from it and developed many personal skills.

Running didn’t have much focus when I was in Tanzania but I started running a little again and enjoyed every run. My focus during the stay was to get as many experiences as possible. Not all were pleasant experiences because some people were living under very tough conditions but in general I experienced so much happiness. People were very good at being happy about life and not stressing around trying to get too much done in too little time. I think many Europeans could learn a lot from this and it definitely gave me inspiration to be more present and enjoy all the good things around me. Also, I didn’t tell the people I met in Tanzania that I was a former world champion in orienteering and it was nice to be acknowledged for other things that I am good at. This I must remember when things are tough in orienteering; I am a lot more than a good orienteer.

Above the clouds at Mt. Meru.
Above the clouds at Mt. Meru.

During my stay in Tanzania I also got a good change to figure out what I missed about not being home in Aarhus and doing elite sport. I really started to miss competing and training towards a goal. It was not so much about winning but I realized that I miss being in the game and in the process of trying to develop my skills so that I have the possibility to make top level performances.

So, now I am back home in Aarhus and have started training and studying again. I feel very motivated for getting back at the top level because I just love competing and giving my all to achieve top performances. I have got some new perspectives on life and have got more aware of what drives me. I enjoy the road to the goals and I will try remembering to stop once and then to really enjoy. It is a privilege to be able to spend so much time on the sport that I love!

First competition in Denmark in 2018.
First competition in Denmark in 2018.