Charlotte 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.
Marie Olaussen runs in from the last control
Fredrikstad SK of Norway won Venla, with approximately 1700 teams taking part. The team of 1.Marianne Riddervold Kahrs, 2.Marie Olaussen, 3.Marianne Andersen, and 4.Kamilla Olaussen ran very well. Marianne and Marianne won silver at the World Champs Relays in 2005. Marianne Kahrs, whose last WOC was 2008, fits her training around a full-time job and children. She was 12th on leg 1, in the first main pack, and said she ran with others as is typical for a relay first leg. The gaffling was such, however, that the other three all ran mostly alone. Marie, fourth fastest on leg 2, ran JWOC in 2017. Marianne Andersen and Kamilla Olaussen are both likely members of the Norwegian team for this year's World Championships in two months time and are possible medallists.
Marie hands over to Marianne Andersen in third place
IFK Göteborg of Sweden were second and Tampereen Pyrintö of Finland third.
Stora Tuna, credit: Antti Harkko
Stora Tuna of Sweden won Jukola, with approximately 1900 teams taking part. The team included the four Svensk brothers, Viktor (who is 18), Joakim, Jesper and Emil, with Henrik Johannesson, Olle Kalerud and Anton Sjökvist. All were in the top ten times for their leg. On the final leg Emil Svensk started with the Swiss runners Matthias Kyburz (8 x WOC medals and ranked number 2 in the world) running for IL Tyrving of Norway, and Florian Howald ( 5 x WOC medals) running for Tampereen Pyrintö.
So in both relays 1-2-3 included Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian teams. Tampereen Pyrintö were third in both. It was certainly unexpected that Stora Tuna won Jukola but were out of the top ten in Venla (which they had won last year.)
We were active on Twitter over the weekend to give an impression of the competition and tell some of the British stories.
Jo Shepherd ran first leg for the 18th placed team, Halden SK 2. Her teammates were Lizzie Ingham, Eveliina Hirvonen and Ida Marie Näss Björgul.
The front of the Venla start about 800m along the initial taped route. Jo (reading her map) is the second Halden runner: the first is the Swiss Sabine Hauswirth who went on to win the leg by over a minute. Just behind Jo is Fiona Bunn running for Södertälje Nykvarn Orientering. It took about 5 minutes for the 1700 first leg runners to pass.
Grace Molloy had her first run of the weekend on leg 2 of Venla for the Finnish club Kalevan Rasti. She had a good run, 36th out of the 1665 runners who completed it. About 15 hours later in Jukola she ran sixth leg, picking up 122 places, to help Forth Valley Orienteers to an excellent 364th place overall. They were not however the highest placed team tagged with a British flag - that was Sheffield University in 306th place.
Charlotte Watson ran the last leg for Lillomarka, picking up 8 places to finish 53rd. Four seconds ahead at the line was Megan Carter-Davies for Rajamäen Rykmentti who had gained 25 places, and in 55th place was Cat Taylor for OK Södertörn who had also gained places. Jess Halliday was 82nd on the first leg for Domnarvets who finished 48th. Laura King was 182nd on first leg for SNO 2.
Graham Gristwood ran fifth leg (third fastest on the leg) for Kalevan Rasti who finished 6th.
Peter Bray ran this leg for the Finnish club Navi. He was 28th on the leg, picking up 5 places, and Navi finished 23rd.
Alan Cherry ran first leg (just 21 seconds down on the leader) for Nydalens who finished 9th.
Alan was one of six British Squad men running the first leg for Scandinavian clubs. Sasha Chepelin and Will Gardner were slightly ahead of Alan in the leading pack. Peter Hodkinson and Alex Carcas were in the second group a minute later. Unfortunately Jonny Crickmore, running for OK Ravinen, had a nightmare on an early control, being over 12 minutes down on the leaders at the first timing point. Ravinen recovered to 24th by the end of the relay, helped by the fastest run on the last leg by Gustav Bergman, who won three gold medals at the World Cup the previous weekend (middle, chase, sprint relay.)
Alasdair McLeod, Peter Hodkinson and Joe Woodley
Alasdair McLeod (leg 2 for Lillomarka), Hector Haines (leg 3 for IFK Lidingö), Joe Woodley (leg 4 for Lillomarka) and Matt Speake (leg 4 for Bäkkelagets SK) running at night, could not quite get as close to their leg leaders as the first leg runners had. Hector was disappointed with his run - IFK Lidingö were 32nd at the end. Lillomarka finished 60th. Matt picked up 8 places to take his team Bäkkelagets into the top 25.
Bäkkelagets SK were however disqualified as Ralph Street mispunched the penultimate control of the whole relay (in company with William Lind of Malungs Skogsmårdarna) - in Ralph's words "the worst possible relay mistake." They would have been 20th. Ralph's Attackpoint blog.
Next year's competition is north of the Arctic Circle.