Assignment: The Jukola orienteering relay race
Artist: Juuso Westerlund
The orienteering relay event “JUKOLA” is composed of the “Jukola” relay (7 men in a team) and the “Venla” relay (4 women in a team). The JUKOLA relay is one of the greatest competitions of relay orienteering in the world each year attracting more than 15 000 participants. The first Jukola relay was organized in 1949 and it has consequently been organized every year in different sites around Finland. At the beginning, only the men could take part in the event. 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. Currently, the number of participants has grown and reached 1500 teams in the male Jukola relay and 1100 teams in the Venla relay. The proportion of international orienteers has lately been approx. 20%, representing some 20 different nationalities.
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 competition center gathers totally a crowd of 30 000 – 40 000 people. Among them, one can distinguish orienteers, trainers, media, members of families and the audience. Most people spend the whole night in the competition center, in and outside of the thousands of tents and caravans.