Finnish Venla & Jukola Relays this weekend have 18,688 runners!

Kay Haarsma2012 Archive

Murray ScownO RIMG0040 - Copy

This weekend the famous Venla and Jukola relay races are happening in Finland.

There will be Australian representative teams in both these races.


The 4 person women’s Venla relay sees Australia with a full team (No 352) for the first time ever with Anna Sheldon, Laurina  Neumann,  Felicity Brown and Vanessa Round running in that order. The start of the relay takes place on Saturday approx. at 3 pm Finnish time, which is about 10pm in the eastern states of AUS. The distances of four legs are 5 – 8 km, and the best teams use approx. three hours before they cross the finish line.


The 7 person men’s team (No 324) is Evan Barr, Murray Scown, Ian Lawford, Nick Dent, Anthony Cox, Jim Russell and Kasimir Gregory.   Ian Lawford has the honour of running the long night leg!  Unfortunately Bryan Keely (injury) and Oliver Mitchell (ill health) were late withdrawals from the team as they are no longer travelling overseas to compete in WOC & WUOC respectively.  Those with long memories will recall Anthony Cox, being a promising ACT junior – he has been based in Paris for many years now.


Other Aussies running in other teams include Julian Dent with Malungs (probably team 26 or else 62) and David Brickhill-Jones with the  Rasti Kurikka team – no 37.   In the Jukola male relay the distances of legs vary from 7 to 15 km. The starting time is around 11 pm, (6am Sunday in eastern states)and so runners of the 1st … 3rd or 4th legs have to carry headlights. The winning team crosses the finishing line early on Sunday morning, around 6 or 7 am Finnish time, while some of the slower teams will take almost twice as long!


In this event if a team member mispunches the remaining runners aren’t allowed to start, so that is real pressure to check those codes!


A record high number of teams will be competing in Hakunila, Vantaa on 16-17 June.

A total of 1266 women’s relay teams have registered to compete in the Venla race and 1686 in men’s Jukola!!   The 16,866 orienteerers registered makes Valio-Jukola 2012 the largest sports event of the year in Finland. It is also the largest Jukola relay of all time now beating the former high achieved in 2010.   So should be a great atmosphere!   The team number is also your start position so our teams are well placed by being in the 300’s.


You can check out the teams (and the competition) on the Jukola website:!


“Valio-Jukola taking place in the metropolitan area of Helsinki is a key factor contributing to this year’s surge in numbers. Long term aim of many of the teams to take part in Jukola is being realised this year. Good location has attracted in particular many new friends and work teams to come along.  It is an international orienteering event with teams from 24 countries taking part. The majority of orienteerers (ca. 75 %) are from Finland, many teams come also from Sweden and Norway.” says Päivi Luoma, the event Executive Secretary.


The first Jukola relay was organized in 1949 and it has consequently been organized every year in different sites around Finland. For the ladies, an individual race with common start was organized in 1951 and it then was turned into a relay race in 1978. The first Jukola relay attracted 41 teams total.


The Jukola relay is mainly a competition of high quality, joining all the best orienteers and clubs in the world. They compete about the victory and fame. The majority of the teams, however, do not try to win the race. For them, it is most important to be able to participate in the event and to not have to give it up. Everybody in the team must have a chance to run. In addition, teams which do not represent any official clubs, can take part in the same relays. The proportion of such teams is already 20% and is growing. Their majority comes from firms and institutions, but there are also groups of people sharing the same passion or hobby, some family teams, etc.

The GEO-QUEST Adventure Race was again won by a team of mostly orienteers with Richard Mountstephens (formerJwoc team member), and Kathryn and Rob Preston joining up with Damon Goerke in the Macpac team for victory.