Venla & Jukola - what’s that about?

Wed 17 Jun 2020

The world’s largest orienteering relays, 72nd Jukola Relay and the 43rd Venla Relay, were due to take place last weekend just north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, with some 18,000 orienteers....

The world’s largest orienteering relays, 72nd Jukola Relay and the 43rd Venla Relay, were due to take place last weekend just north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, with some 18,000 orienteers expected to take part. Sarah Howes and Mark Glaisher were due to go as part of BOK & Friends teams.  Like so many other sporting events this year, these famous relays had to be postponed so BOK came up with the idea of bringing them to the UK in a virtual and socially distanced format. 

Participants were all over the UK from Somerset to Edinburgh and Kent to Sheffield plus someone in Austria and another in Sweden. A variety of modes were used depending on state of fitness/injury or availability of somewhere to run/orienteer, so there were people road running, trail running, orienteering, treadmill running, walking, cycling or using a static bike!

The Venla relay started at 2pm on Saturday afternoon with 4 teams of four and the Jukola at 11pm on Saturday evening with 4 teams of seven, just like the real thing.  WhatsApp was the means of communication for handovers, general chat, photos & videos and its live location facility meant that you could track where people were. The reliability of the live location was a bit erratic but this all added to the fun.  A bingo card was thrown into the mix comprising of the likes of the Finnish flag, snow, reindeer, Santa, blue berries, lake, Moomin, different sorts of trees,  etc to spot on your run. Gardens were turned into virtual start & finish arenas and various Finnish culinary delicacies were produced!

A weekend of great fun and entertainment was certainly had by everyone. It felt really great to be part of the orienteering community after weeks in lockdown.  Roll on 2021 and hopefully a real trip to the Arctic Circle!

Sarah Howes

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