Jukola 2018

Post date: Jun 25, 2018 7:28:8 PM

The Jukola is an orienteering relay competition with seven legs for teams from orienteering clubs and other associations. The winning team is awarded the challenge trophy “Lukkarin oppi” (“The Schoolmaster’s Lesson”), donated by the Kaukametsäläiset association. The race commences at sun set so the first three runners on every team will be running through the night and with 1,895 teams on the start line it is some sight to behold.

The 70th Jukola Relay was held in the towns of Lahti and Hollola in Finland on 16th and 17th June 2018 and some Irish teams were present at the start line. Among them was team E-ChiP a joint CorkO and BOC team. The relay members were Dan McDonnell, Cathal Lane and Jens Waechter from CorkO and Paul O'Sullivan Hourihan, Zac O'Sullivan Hourihan, Josh O'Sullivan Hourihan and Dermot O'Sullivan from BOC.

The competition terrain was located in Hälvälä, Hollola, Finland.The competition terrain was dominated by many ice-age formed depressions along the edges of which are Pine forests and rocky areas. The terrain was rocky in many places but there was are also areas of good runability. The deepest depressions were around 40 meters deep but the majority of the depressions were are much flatter. The area has undergone normal amounts of forestry work and these can be seen more clearly in the eastern part of the terrain where there was clear tree line patterns. There has been limited amount of fresh forest thinning however visibility on the ground was good. All in all on offer was one of Finland’s largest genuine depression filled terrains.

For the 2018 Jukola the relay legs were split as follows:

All legs included approximately 500 – 600 meters of marked route. Gaffling/forking was used on all legs. The sun set at 22:57 on Saturday, 16th June 2018 and rose at 3:41 a.m. on Sunday, 17th June 2018. The mass start race commenced 23:00 on Saturday, 16th June 2018. The start was situated in Sarvingintie on the old runway in the center of the competition center. 

CorkO's Dan McDonnell and Cathal Lane have kindly written a great account of their adventure at Jukola. It might inspire others to consider participating at the 2019 Jukola!

Dan McDonnell's Race Report

I had seen and heard so much of Jukola over the last few years, I couldn’t believe that I was actually here at this incredible orienteering event myself. Walking from the shuttle bus down and into the arena almost felt like walking into a music festival of some sort. The arena was massive, thousands of people milling about shopping, eating, watching the big screens and preparing for the race to come. The set up was incredible, and it was all for just two days. After we made ourselves at home at the campsite, we made our way down to the arena for the start of the Venla relay at 2 o’clock. It was incredible watching over 1500 first leg runners burst into life and shoot down the old runway and into the forest. Such a great atmosphere.

That night at 11pm the Jukola relay itself, which we were competing in, kicked off! It had to be the most mad but amazing thing I have seen, over 1900 competitors running off when the cannon fired, with their head torches on full blast, just as the sun sets over the forest. The atmosphere was electric. Shortly after I made my way down to the spectator control, and at about midnight, headlamps started to pop up in the trees. It was magical seeing the lights weaving through the forest. The leaders burst out of the forest at a flying pace. Incredible talent from the top guys to be able to perform at such a high level in tricky terrain, and at night! I then headed to get some sleep (only managing 2.5 hours).

At 9:20am the next morning it was my time to head out (in the mass re-start). I was excited to head out on my 10.7km course, although slightly nervous because the mass start was going to be mental! Before I knew it we were off, pelting down the runway. I was too caught up in the excitement of it all as before I knew it I was approaching the start kite and still hadn’t planned my route. Nonetheless, after some frantic map reading, I started well hitting the first control perfectly. But I rushed the second control and had not identified the distinct change in vegetation boundary. So when I hit this area on the ground, I was unsure of where I was and started wondering around trying to relocate. Suddenly a train of people burst through the trees behind me and because admittedly, I was clueless to where I was, I jumped on the people train and followed the leader. Thankfully they were headed to my control, but I was determined not to make such silly mistakes again, so I took my time, planned my next control and off I went.

Thankfully the next few controls went well, making good use of the tracks, large depressions and boulders to help me on my way. Heading into control eight I lost some time. Visibility was slightly less in the green section of the map and I should have slowed down to account for this. Looking at the leg from 10 to 11, I did not fancy heading straight line through all those depressions to get it, so I decided to follow the track all the way around, (as shown in the picture, me being the blue line) and then cut in. This was certainly a lot longer but substantially safer and I visited two water stations along the way which were a welcome treat, as the weather was roasting! I made a few small consecutive mistakes on 13 and 14, where my concentration just dropped and got distracted by other runners and other controls that weren’t mine.

I made sure I got the spectator control (16) correct, and finished the course with relative ease from there. All in all an extremely enjoyable race, and the terrain was just brilliant. Such a runnable forest which makes for a nice change.

It really was a fantastic event as a whole, and with such a great team I had a brilliant weekend. This is an event which everyone should experience as it is unlike no other.

Dan McDonnell

Dan's Course

Dan's Route on the leg form 10 to 11

Cathal Lane's Race Report

The atmosphere of the Jukola event was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Walking in from the bus and seeing the sheer scale of everything. Looking around at the arena packed with plenty tents and numerous large screens showing a live stream of the event throughout. The amount of work put in for a two day orienteering event was unbelievable. I must say once arriving at the event I was instantly looking forward to my run despite it being just under 24hrs away.

At 11pm as the sun set and the cannon fired signaling the start of the relay it was safe to say the buzz and the electric atmosphere around the arena was at its highest. Watching the big screens in the arena and seeing the first runners coming to camera controls and seeing the lights of their head torches peak through the trees it was pretty unbelievable and spectacular.

After this I went for a small sleep watch some of the changeovers take place (making sure I wasn’t going to mess it up) and got ready for my run which didn’t happen until about 7:30.

My course started with an easy run to the start kite (~450m) which allowed for plenty time to plan your route to the first control. I decided to take advantage of the fact that a couple thousand people had been out on their course prior to me and decide to take an elephant track from the start kite which headed in the direction of my first control. The track allowed for some fast running and brought me to the last path before you head into the control area. I relocated on this path at a boulder field next to the path to be sure where I was and then headed in for the control. I was going well until I stumbled across a control, that wasn’t mine (it turns out there was 4 controls in that area all pretty close, the leg was gaffled)I then became unsure of myself despite being on the right track. And tried to relocate I eventually found it but lost a bit of time in the process. (Route shown in Pic 1)

Control’s 2 and 3 were pretty straightforward but lost a bit of time in the very detailed sections of the map.

Control 4 is where I lost a nice chunk of time. I underestimated the control and didn’t focus on the leg enough and lost track of where I was and had to relocate back at the water station which wasn’t all that bad as the water was quite refreshing as the tempeture was beginning to rise.

Control 5 was pretty straightforward as it looked like a lot of people had it as there seemed to be a constant train heading to it and out of it constantly (might have been a camera control) which meant there was a pretty big elephant path going to it.

Control 6 is where I think I lost most time on the course, once reaching the water station I had 2 route options to get to the control. One option was to head on the path to right and run all round and come in which was a safe but longer option the other option was to be direct and there where plenty people heading in that direction. I was leaning towards the safe option but last minute changed my mind and headed the direct route. As there was a very fast train of people went passed in the direction of my control and I decided to chance it, (It didn’t go well.)I ended up coming back to the water station to relocate and headed around the path in my first option and found it fine then.

Control’s 7 and 8 were good I began to get more into the map at this point and begin to read it better and more accurately and went in a pretty direct route for both these legs.

Control 9 included a small mistake where I slightly missed it and ended up at the water station on the path but went back and found it pretty fast.

Control 10 I found pretty difficult I ended up to far right of the control and got pretty distracted and struggled to focus when there was a constant stream of 7th leg runners coming in their 100’s against me who had started in a mass start about 30mins previous and had a 15km course to contend with. I ended up finding it with a bit of luck.

Control 11 to Control 13 was pretty straightforward as the rough open areas allowed you to be sure where you were at all times

Control 14 was a spectator control and just navigated on the paths to it trying not to mess it up in front of everybody.

Control 15 to the finish was also quite simple and enjoyable just took advantage of the paths and the nice running even though there wasn’t a lot of pace left in me at that point on the course.

Overall I found the event and the course very enjoyable the whole scale of everything was on another level to anything I had ever experienced. I found it great to get experience and practice on such good terrain. Overall it was an incredibly enjoyable event with the team especially and would defiantly recommend to any orienteerer.

Cathal Lane

Cathal's Route on the leg form 10 to 11

Cathal's Course

Team E-CHiP