Uppsala hosts many events during the year but Valborg is extra special for all students. In this magnificent event, there are numerous activities to do and watch, being Forsränningen (River Rafting) one of the most expected ones either for does active in the raft run or for the spectator. Firstly, it is not really easy to get a raft once the selection is made by a lottery, but 120 lucky teams get to experience it each year. The building starts on Saturday, one week before Valborg (The River Festival), and it goes on until the following Friday, when you should have everything ready.
Building the raft
My friends and I (Frida (team captain), Feli, Fine and myself) amazingly got a raft and for all of us this is the first time doing it. We chose a Harry Potter theme and decided to make the Hogwarts Express (we named our raft “The Raft That Must Not Be Named” (I know, sounds great!)).
For those who are building rafts for the first time I guess it can be a surprise what you will find at the building area on the first day (you don’t have to go on the first day if you don’t want to as you can start any time during the week as long as you finish by Friday). Of course, everyone knows that the building happens outside at one of Uppsala University’s building grounds, which means that if it is raining, snowing, hailing, sun and blue sky or any other weather condition possible, you must find a way to do this (Wednesday 26/04 had all the conditions mentioned = nightmarish). Then, you arrive there on your first day and check out the equipment you have to work with: three different sizes and formats of Styrofoam, three 3,60 meters’ pieces of wood and a bottle of glue (that is not really effective when you want to glue Styrofoam on Styrofoam, seriously). Additionally, you may get saws, nails, hammers and other useful stuff that you can work with.
Now come the tricky part, how can you use your pieces to fit the design you want? Well, starting with drawing your ideas on the Styrofoam might be a promising idea, because them you can see what pieces will be best everything that you want to do and what material you will have left (at least that is what we did and it worked). After that, you can start cutting the Styrofoam and shaping the way you want. For us it started okay on Saturday, we managed to create a good frame for our base Styrofoam and the weather was nice even though it was cold. The next days were not that nice, it was raining and cold, seriously, how can you work with glue and paint when it is so wet? Not easy, sometimes you don’t, but we managed to cut and glue everything by Wednesday (the nightmarish day), but not with that glue I mentioned before because that doesn’t work well for that, so most teams buy foam glue that is really sticky and will get your pieces and details together (and it will leave you with really sticky hands, almost impossible to get off!!).
After getting your raft approved, you can start painting and that’s when you noticed that you have managed to put some nice stuff together. We did our painting on Thursday, which was the nicest day in the week as it was sunny and even though there was some hail, it wasn’t that much. Oh, and don’t forget to make some paddles (why sawing is so difficult?). WE DID IT!!
So, after a week of building on both bad and pleasant weather, we did manage to build our raft (I know, it looks amazing). Moreover, it is super cool to see all other teams working on their rafts creating amazing designs, and the friendly atmosphere with loads of people, tasty food, cotton candy, kanelbulle, music and more.
Today (Saturday) we will load the rafts to trucks for transportation to the starting line. Clearly, the anxiety for tomorrow just grows, the river water is around 4°C (super fun) and the chances to falling in are high. Can’t wait to get started.