Interview with Vimbas family – story about orienteering lifestyle

Greetings to all followers of Dzintaru Three-Days!

We have finally awaited spring and sunny April, the first warm days and positive hopes that in summer everything that is planned can happen and we will meet in nature in Dzintaru Three-Days!

In the April #dz3dblog the organizers offer a conversation with the active Vimbas family from Ropazi. Each of the Vimbas family has its own story and vision of what it means to do orienteering and what are the feelings that physical activity in nature provides.

For the family head Martins orienteering is a hobby of a lifetime although he got into it only 20 years ago. His wife Eva has once won the most popular women’s distance and for that gotten a compressor as a prize. This compressor is still in use!

All their 3 children – Teodors, Francis and Elizabete – enjoy orienteering too. Dzintaru Three-Days is an event created by Elizabete’s friends. Elizabete herself points out that her father has always called her friends intelligent. For example: “Those intelligent friends of yours.”

Ieva Pūce (Ieva): How are you doing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you continue to do orienteering during this time period and how?

Eva Haberkorne-Vimba (Eva): Strange as it may sound, we haven’t went to the woods as often in the past year. I would rather describe it as my slight neglect because going to the forest was not forbidden. Orienteering competitions just didn’t take place. We could just take the map and drive to the forest. But we didn’t drive as often as we’d like.

Martins Vimba (Martins): When we could, we drove to forest. In 2020, there was the cool part from July to September, when there were competitions held every week. We were participating and it was amazing. But when it comes to challenges and orienteering, we miss the pre-start anxiety feeling when the long-awaited weekend has arrived. Go to the competition, meet all the old “deers”. In fact, now no one knows how many “deers” have over-wintered (Martins laughs). Here I should mention the joke from the old ladies, who finally meet after winter and discuss – oh, you have also “over-wintered”! Now we don’t know who has or hasn’t “over-wintered”, except for a few who we have met.

Eva: Orienteering is not just a combination of maps and forest. Orienteering is more of a process. I don’t miss the map and the forest so much as meeting friends and the fun. Opportunity to use everything that the event offers. Thoughts about where I will eat, what I will take with me, what socks I should buy, everything belongs to the process. Shall we go to that cafe? Is it too far? Where will we stay overnight? What will we take with us? The preparation process is bigger than the event itself. On the other hand, without the competition there would be no preparation process.

Martins: To shout and support, shout for Timo and Lauri (Sild) in Latvian language in international matches!

Eva: And then spend the whole evening powerlessly analysing where you could have ran. Draw all your swirls on the map. Yes, all this is missing.

Elizabete Vimba (Elizabete): When my mom talked about what makes her come back again and again, to go to those event, it’s… It’s so specific for everyone. My stomach always aches 20 minutes before we get to the arena and I get dizzy. It happens because of a good kind of anxiety. Listening to what my parents were just saying, I realized that I hadn’t felt anything like that for so long. Of course, I don’t like this anxiety feeling but looking back on everything I have experienced because of orienteering, I want to feel this pre-start anxiety again. The moment you get out of the car and meet all your friends. When you get to the event centre you have to say “hello!” to everyone, talk for 5 minutes – it’s amazingly cool. It’s all about the people around us.

Martins: Of course, training is currently allowed, and everyone can run in the forest, but I really miss the “amateur competition”. We run in our own age groups, competing primarily between ourselves and some known competitors from year to year. And we hope that when we are in the age group over 90, everyone will be so weak that we will finally beat them. I also miss the time management that every race requires. For example, we have 3 children in our family. At one point a situation arises – the oldest child runs and copes with himself, the middle child somehow manages by himself, but we have to work actively with the youngest to be able to run ourselves. Especially, if the start is far from the competition centre. We have to think about who has which starting minute, who will take care of the youngest child, who will get him to the start and who will run the distance with him. If the middle child does not take very long to finish his distance, then I will probably get to my start on time, but if anything, then the keys and compass will be put in the agreed place. I really miss such management.

Elizabete: And then the average child forgets that he has to go to the youngest child, and the older child misses an hour from her start and loses the podium.

Ieva: What has orienteering brought to your life? What has changed since you started orienteering?

Elizabete: I don’t like people in interviews saying “I can’t imagine my life without…” But I wouldn’t have the life I have now without orienteering. I don’t even know what my life was like before orienteering. I was too small to remember. As I mentioned before, all my friends are involved in orienteering. My family is orienteering. We travel to do orienteering. I wouldn’t know what travelling is if I didn’t have orienteering because I don’t know what people do when traveling. Do you go and sit in the pool…? Driving to orienteering races hasn’t always been with sparks of joy in the air – “yey, we are driving to the Czech Republic to nearly die on those cliffs”. But I don’t know how to travel differently because it’s always the main goal when we go somewhere. For example, there are families who go to the beach every weekend. But what are they doing there? I cannot wrap my head around it.

What has orienteering given me? Everything. I think everything that has happened to us makes us who we are now. I can definitely say that orienteering is a huge part of who I am now. Not the distances or the moment you run with that map through the forest. No, the whole process.

Martins: There are two sides. One is about the ability to make decisions, about the ability to make mistakes and correct them, to acknowledge them, because you will not hide your mistakes, they are just there and everyone can see them. During the race I walk around the forest with a confused face, someone runs by me and then at the finish says, “Hey, were you lost there in the forest for a moment?” The opposite also happens. It teaches that everyone can make mistakes, but we can always do better. Orienteering certainly trains a person’s ability to respond adequately to the life around them. Secondly, of course, the physical factor is an important part, as well as the opportunity to look at new, unknown places. Just because, for example, Hungarians organize orienteering multi-days. Never in your life would you get to that place otherwise. Then we drive there, 4-5 hours a day are busy orienteering, except when driving to the O-ringen (the largest multi-day orienteering competition in the world) where the competition takes a full day. The competition centres are usually close to a city, attractions or just great nature. It is possible to learn a little about things related to this place, such as a winery, historical sites, attraction points, a brewery, etc. Basically, it’s getting to know the world. We have also lived in various mystical apartments, where we have met interesting people who, no doubt, enrich the views of our lives. And, of course, the compressor! We have our own orienteering compressor (Martins laughs)!

Eva: It’s a little different for me. I started orienteering when I was over 20 years old. At the beginning I went with Martins and orienteering seemed like one big madness – you will enter the forest and you will definitely not come out. I was waiting for Martins every time in the competitions with the worry that he would not come out of that forest. When I tried it, it was interesting, of course, but at first there was no sport-related passion. It was just interesting. When I started orienteering, I noticed that I was different from the others. You could feel the difference from other sports. Basketball, football are not comparable to orienteering. If you are an orienteer, you seem to be special in some way. I still have this special feeling. Here in Ropazi everyone already knows that there is such a Vimbas family. People here already know everything about orienteering, although it isn’t the case that all Ropazi inhabitants do orienteering. This is how our family is different. Of course, later came the time when athletic ambition appeared and grew. Right now, I have stepped aside a little. I cultivate more patience, take the opportunity to sympathize with others and look at the event a little from the side. If you are in this process, then you are one of us.

Martins: I forgot to mention Jukola. Well, that is something supernatural. (Jukola – the largest orienteering relay, which gathers more than 20,000 participants every year) And, of course, our world’s best orienteering club – OK “Ziemeļkurzeme”!

Elizabete: I have two important events during the year. One of them is Spelmanu Night and the other is Jukola.

Martins: Probably, we should mention the event where each of our family member put a helping hand in the creation. In the end, we became members of the organizing committee of the World Rogaining Championships 2017. It happened by accident. I had to write the application for organizing the competition because no one wanted to do it, as a result of which I came across a fantastic team and I will probably never meet again in my life someone as fantastic as them.

There is a picture of the organiser team at the finish arch that is definitely one of the most important pictures of the whole life for all the people in that picture. That feeling, an indescribable, unreal, unimaginable atmosphere! In a team of 60 people we organized the World Rogaining Championships by stumbling, falling, not sleeping, but in the end, everything went wonderful, fantastic. It was in Latgale – in Mamonova. In a place where there was nothing before – neither electricity nor water – everything, a small village, was built. Organizationally, it was something memorable. I think for the whole Latvian team.

And of course, the World Championships in both Finland and Latvia. The moment when Rūdis (Rūdolfs Zērnis – one of the leading orienteers in Latvia) started his leg in the relay…

Elizabete: About the World Orienteering Championships 2018 in Latvia, where the Latvian men’s relay team fought for medals until the last seconds: I have never fainted in my life, but at that time it seemed to me that I would die from how much emotion I had. I am a very emotional person in general, I have a hard time going through emotional moments. I remember holding tightly to a metal fence and shaking my legs. I cried terribly. My dad came and hugged me. After that, my dad told Andris Jubelis (also one of the leading Latvian orienteers) how emotional I was, which I was very ashamed of later. In my opinion, this is the most monumental orienteering moment I have experienced. But, yes, the World Rogaining Championship is also one of those unique events I took part in – as dad said, it was something unreal. I remember us – organizers – sitting at the table together after the race and it just seemed that everyone was going to cry. I think somebody was crying too. I definitely cried because I always cry.

Martins: I still remember how (Edgars) Bertuks, in all white running clothes, ran out of the forest in Jukola as the first to hit the first leg finish line, and we were there. Commentators shouted that it was Bertuks, and we realized that he had left everyone behind which is usually not the case in Jukola.

And, of course, (Andris) Jubelis on Turaida hill and on television screens as the first (this is the event that Elizabeth told us about earlier).

Elizabete: I remember the time when Edgars Bertuks won the World Championship (2012, Lausanne, Switzerland). At the time, dad and I were watching the race in his home office. Of course, I didn’t understand anything about GPS tracking at the time, but I still watched all those long hours, all the time of the race. What I remember is how dad announced Bertuk’s victory, and I walked out of the office because I cried in joy. I could not understand how a Latvian I have met, who runs every week through the same forest as me, has won the World Championship! In general, I believe that Latvians are very passionate about sports and are in it with all their heart and soul. We can argue about different topics, but when a Latvian wins something in sports, it is a very, very special feeling.

Ieva: How do you see the Dzintaru Three-Days orienteering competition project?

Martins: We have once organized something similar, at the same time gifting a cake to winners, holding a ribbon and thinking about how to finance it all. Seeing how young people organize something is a joy to watch from the side-lines and a wish to support. The feelings are very familiar. It is cool if you can sometimes give some advice to the youngsters, even maybe with bother your advice (both Martins and Eva laugh).

Dzintaru Three-Days is a mega cool and now a very popular event. That was not the case 2 years ago. Of course, it seemed cool that young people with abnormal stubbornness are moving forward at a time when all weekends are busy with already known orienteering competitions. And in the end they find time and make a race. I sympathize with them myself, because I know that for the first time event there is a need to pay a little out of your own pocket, but this is a part of the beginning for everyone.

Eva: It’s called investment! If you really believe in yourself, then you will overtake Kapa (Three-Days) in no time. The team as a whole also looks very promising.

Martins: Rationally speaking – there is a demand for such a sport and such events. I have also been at the organizing side at various events, so I know that if you can make an event that is well attended, then there is a good chance that it will be financially successful too. In my opinion, there are all the conditions for this team to become one that can attract people. Already, marketing looks at a very good level. Marketing is what drives attendance. From there on you only need to be able to count.

Eva: The key to any event is communication. Communication with each other, being able to communicate the event to the outside, being able to communicate with the service provider, etc.

Martins: We all know the biggest orienteering competitions in Latvia – Kurzemes Pavasaris, Kapa, etc. It’s actually a matter of place on the calendar. And there is definitely a place for such an event in the calendar, because there are some competitions that no longer take place every year. It is probably also important how much people will be attracted from abroad. There, in turn, you need something special to entice them to come to Latvia. Every organizer fights for their event.

Elizabete: I just wanted to mention that maybe the older people aren’t so enthusiastic about the idea that there are some youngsters who are organizing some kind of events. I remember when the first Dzintaru Three-Days running shirts were made and worn. I heard gossips in various other competitions: “What is that Dzintaru Three-Days? What are the shirts about?” In my opinion, the quality of this event has been at a high level since the beginning. I know these people who are organizing this event. I can guarantee that they and Dzintaru Three-Days will not disappear anywhere.

Eva: I believe that Dzintaru Three-Days has the best visual brand compared to other events of its kind.

Ieva: Why do you think people should apply and participate in Dzintari Three-Days 2021?

Martins: It’s the same as with the rock band “Fools on Parade”. When they weren’t so famous yet, I drove one of them in the car and asked: “For how much will you play a corporate party for us before you haven’t become terribly expensive?” And you know what? They agreed! Then they became mega famous. Similarly, Dzintaru Three-Days is an opportunity to get into it early, which in time will be something big and impressive.

Eva: I would probably examine a little bit the person who is asking this. Then the respective talk would be either through passion or through pity. Those who I would entice through pity – would create the idea that Dzintaru Three-Days is a brand new event, it is organized by young people, which is why they have to go and participate to support their work and enthusiasm. The second, in turn, would be to say that this event is something new, exciting, with well -thought-out marketing, with opportunities to be in cool places, as well as the opportunity to get the best brand shirt.

Elizabete: I just wanted to share the fact that if you’ve been to Jukola and haven’t bought sports shoes and then bragged about them to everyone in the club’s tent, then you haven’t been to Jukola. It can be similar with the Dzintari Three-Days.

The Vimbas family inspires many with their desire to get involved and promote one of the most exciting sports in the world – orienteering. If you haven’t tried orienteering in the forest yet, then I believe that after these stories you will want to try it out!

We would like to say a huge thank you for the current and future involvement of the Vimba family in the creation of the Dzintari Three-Days It would not be possible to create it without you!

We are waiting for the blog of the final month of spring!

Be active and go in nature!

The blog was prepared by Ieva Puce

21.04.2021, Madona

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