My story with IGTISA

IGTISA is a car dealership and service in Siauliai, Lithuania, and was founded by Dainoras Saunorius, companies head and club owner, whose passion for orienteering has transformed into the only professional orienteering club in Baltic states. The club’s name comes from the initials of his sons’ names.

Dainoras has helped me greatly during most of my senior career. He has not only supported me as I try to climb up the results list on big championships, but also as a friend in good, and not so good times.

My first competition with IGTISA was back in 2015, it was Lithuanian club relay and I was asked by Vilius Aleliunas to join their team as the best junior girl in the Baltics at the time. It was also my first victory with the club.

IGTISA has always mostly consisted of elite runners. Originally the idea was to develop a strong and competitive men’s team with Lithuanian and other Baltic runners for the big relays like Jukola and 10Mila, but eventually also women’s team was put together.

I continued to run Lithuanian club relays with them until the end of 2017, which was a great year for me in terms of international results. I took big steps in my development as an elite athlete, mostly thanks to our preparations for WOC 2018 in Latvia. At the end of 2017 I was asked to join IGTISA women’s team with Venla relay as the main goal.

I had previously run in several Swedish clubs, but I never really felt as part of a team. Being looked at as “some Eastern European girl” was a badge that I felt I always had to carry with me, at least at the time when I was not really competitive yet. Coming to IGTISA felt like coming home to me. I was mentally in a much better place to perform on the level I was training for. We were all equal, no matter where we came from. On my first Venla relay in 2018 with IGTISA I was on the 3rd leg and Sandra Pauzaite came to changeover in 2nd place. I was so nervous, but also so ready for it. I did a good race and only let Simone Niggli and Marika Teini pass me, changing in 4th. We managed to secure TOP10, finishing in 9th place after last leg by Gabija Razaityte. A year later in 2019 we climbed one more position and finished in 8th place. At the end of 2019 Hanna Wisniewska and Elza Ķuze (still a youngster at the time) joined the club and our team started to look good, but only “on the paper” as we were not able to train together on regular basis and there was no one who could organize regular training camps. In fact, from the time I joined club in 2017 up until autumn of 2022 there were only a couple of times we had a chance to train together as we arrived a few days earlier for Venla in June. I was okay with it in the beginning, but as time went on I knew that I needed more if I wanted to grow. In 2021 I was offered by several Finnish and also a Norwegian club to join them, but Dainoras was very persuasive and I agreed to stay. At the time I was mostly preparing for sprints and didn’t run much in the forest anyway.

In 2022 the wind of change blew in. Long story short - at the moment IGTISA consists of only women runners, we finally have a coach and things are looking brighter than ever. IGTISA coach Dawid Stefanski, who is Hanna’s husband and previously coached Polish National team, started to work with IGTISA by the fall of 2022. Aleksandra Hornik and a Polish junior Hanna Sudol (we call her small Hanna) joined the team by the end of last season, and later also another Latvian Laura Puķīte. For the first time we had two women’s teams on Venla relay start line, and some more runners are joining the team permanently. None of us have spectacular results or medals individually on international stage, but it feels like magic when we are all together. We trained together a lot last winter, having camps every month. I have been a part of many different women’s teams, both in the national team and in clubs, and I have come to the conclusion that a team that performs well will consist of people who “vibe” on the same level, who are similar in character, don’t create drama and feel good around each other. Performing well feels more of a challenge when you don’t have that, even if you have top runners in the team. I feel so fortunate and lucky to have such people around me right now, not only in the team but also in my family.

Victory in Finnish relay league Viestiliiga in April was just a small step on the way, but it showed that we have improved in leaps and bounds and gave all of us a big confidence boost. We managed TOP10 results in both 10Mila and Venla, finishing in 8th and 9th respectively, but I know we have more to show. Thanks, girls, for being on this journey with me and motivating me to be a better version of myself in this game.

Shop now

From the World champion to the World