cwCharlotte Watson in Lillomarka OL Relay Kit

The Venla and Jukola relays, the latter the biggest orienteering race in the world, took place in Finland last weekend. There were over 20,000 runners and an estimated 50,000 people attending the competition centre and camping in 70 hectares near Kangasala. The weekend is both top-level and mass participation sport. Most of the top British forest orienteers were there, running for their Scandinavian clubs.

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LogoKangasala-Jukola Logo from the Organisation Website

The weekend of 15th/16th June is the Venla and Jukola Relays in Finland. It's both a big festival weekend - the above logo is out directing traffic on the main motorways several days beforehand - and one of the main competitive weekends of the international orienteering calendar. The relays are a mix of top-level and participation sport like the London Marathon but with a team ethos. It's a tradition, and it gets a great deal of general interest in Finland. There is also something of a link to Finnish national consciousness with it moving round the forests and its naming from the first great work of Finnish literature.

Some numbers: The competition centre, accommodation and parking takes 70 hectares. There are about 1750 tents, 450 provided by the military. 50,000 people will be in and around the competition area over the weekend.

As they say "For a good accomplishment the orienteer needs resolution, persistency and brisk sports spirit."

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kris

Story (and great photo) on Jukola website about two British runners who were first back from leg 1

endleg1 Photo: Screen grab from the international TV broadcast of Kris and Ralph running together to the map exchange.

See the race develop in one of the most technical forests, even by Finnish standards - Leg 1 GPS


In an interesting postscript, and emphasising Kris's summary of his running in his recent interview "no two races are the same", Kris won a 5K track race the following weekend.

UPDATE 26th 4:30pm - race video at http://www.runjumpthrow.com/videos/24296

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rs

(Update 7am Saturday 16th - list updated, apologies to anyone we have missed, you can let us know at @OnTheRedLineO on Twitter.)

We can perhaps usefully summarise British runners in Venla and Jukola.

There are ten British teams in Venla, and eleven in Jukola. You can find their runners in the full Venla/Jukola startlists.

Many of the stronger British or British-based runners taking part are running for Scandinavian clubs, some probably near the sharp end of the races - see below for list.

Tons of thought and hours of practice goes into who runs which leg. Factors such as the light conditions, how many other runners will be in near attendance, athlete style and mental approach all play a part as well as this year's terrain type and leg length and position in the relay.

The result is we see that every single leg in both Venla and Jukola is represented in the list of British runners in Scandinavian club teams. You may not be so surprised to learn which has most...

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mcd Photo by Wendy Carlyle

The weekend of 16th/17th June is the Venla and Jukola Relays in Finland. These are enormous. It's a big festival weekend and one of the big competitive weekends of the international orienteering calendar.

Venla is a 4-leg day relay for women. Jukola is a 7-leg overnight relay.

In Britain, a country of 65 million people, orienteering is not so well-known and remains a minority sport. Night orienteering is a minority sport within the minority sport, and a lot of active orienteers say they don't like relay orienteering because of "the additional responsibility" of teammates. Guess what - the UK's night relay, the "Harvester Trophy", is a connoisseur's event for two hundred people.

In Finland, a country with less than one tenth the population, orienteering has a higher profile and there is more navigation skill, the long days of midsummer are a big contrast to the winter, and the overnight relay weekend is several hundred times bigger, attracting over fifteen thousand runners.

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For Team GB it is the several rounds of the World Cup that defines the competitions. The rounds are hosted in different countries, and the programme is different each year. This year there are four rounds in all. The first round is the European Championships (EOC). The second round is the annual World Championships (WOC).

The European Championships are every two years. 2018 is a year for them - they are in Switzerland, in May.

This is the last year that the World Championships includes all disciplines. From 2019 forest and sprint will alternate. This year WOC is in Latvia in August.

The combination of an all disciplines World Championships and a European Championships makes 2018 the best year to further develop the interest of supporters and spectators in international orienteering.

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