Tuesday, May 22, 2012

DVOA Goes to Jukola



After 5 years DVOA is again returning to Jukola! Sending a full male and female team.

This year Jukola and Venla are being held just 10km away from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. This is the home area of Alisa Raitanen who was an exchange student last year outside Philadelphia and joined DVOA. I am arriving on the 14th of June and getting a chance to stay with Alisa and hopefully get some training in. I will be peaking her brains for some local knowledge tips! It will be nice to arrive to a friendly face and catch up with her before racing. Easier to keep your cool about starting a huge relay event when your around friends!

So a little bit about Jukola for those who are unsure what it actually is. This year is the 64th Jukola Relay and the 35th Venla Relay,  and is taking place the 16th and 17th of June. They are always in Finland and the largest relay events held in the world.
Venla is run first and is a womens’ relay competition with four legs. Venla is run fully in the daylight with legs this year ranging from 5.9km to 8.5km with an expected winning time of 2 hr 54 mins (these girls are moving!) DVOA's team this year is Me on first leg (mass start at 2pm), Sandy Fillebrown running 2nd, Dasha Babushok running 3rd, and Suzanne Armstrong bringing us home. I'm excited about starting us off and also a little nervous because there are so many teams! And by many teams try ~1258 just for Venla! It is going to take a lot of concentration and making sure I check my control codes. With that many teams out the whole event is forked (not everyone runs exactly the same course but comparable), probably many forks.
Start of Jukola
 Having done some reading they are changing the start procedure this year though. Instead of the maps being up on wire like the photo above they are going to be handed out minutes before the relay starts by officials. So at least I don't have to worry about not being able to reach my map and getting trampled! only have to make sure i'm standing at the right band on the ground to get the right map.



Jukola is a men's relay competition (although some women will run in it) with seven legs for teams from orienteering clubs and associations. Jukola starts at 10:30pm which is daylight/dusk in finland and run through the night, with around 2-3 legs running in the dark. Jukola legs this year range from 7.8km and ending with a 15km leg. The expected winning time for this year is 7 hrs 58 mins (these guys are not hanging around!) DVOA's team is Vadim Masalkov, Clem McGrath, Greg Balter, Sergei Zhyk, Nate Orwaschel, Eddie Bergeron, and Wyatt Riley. They are racing agents ~1663 other teams!



Looking at the maps of the area it looks technical like you would expect in Finland. Smaller hills with lots of bare rock on them and the low flat areas generally marsh. I'm hoping to find out in training if the marshes are fast or shoe sucking. I think contours are going to be key and knowing when to slow down a bit even though there are loads of other orienteers around. From the website "The scale is 1:10 000, contour interval 5 m, six colours, in accordance with the IOF standards and will be printed in March 2012. The maps are in plastic map cases. The map is drawn by Pekka Rytk√∂nen (2010–2011). The electronic punching system (Emit) will be in use." Emit should be interesting to use again. I have only used the Emit bricks at the JWOC in Denmark and I didn't particularly like them as they have to fit into the control box exactly the right way. However,  for an event like this I can understand why they use them since a piece of paper is also attached to your brick and is pin punched at each control at the same time.

So we have 25 days left of training and lot of map geeking to do before the big event! I hope people will wish us luck and watch from home! GO DVOA!

DVOA Venla Team 2007 (photo: Karl Ahlswede)

DVOA Jukola Team 2007 (photo: Sandy Ahlswede)

Please don't forget that I have a chipin going on the right hand side of my blog. Any donations are greatly appreciated as I prepare for Venla and WUOC this summer!



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