Jukola preview

This weekend sees the Jukola relay take place in Lapua in Finland. Jukola is the largest orienteering competition in the world, with around 13,000 competitors taking part in either the men´s or the women´s competitions. The event starts on Saturday afternoon, at 2.30pm, with the women´s relay, or ´Venla´, which is a relay for teams of 4. Then in the evening, at 11pm, the men´s competition starts. Each team has 7 runners, and the competition goes through the night, finishing around 6am. Teams from around the world take part, but the big favourites are always the Nordic teams. In the men´s, last year´s winners Vehkalahden Veikot will be looking to retain their title, but they will face stiff competition from Kalevan Rasti, Vaajakosken Terä, Södertälje-Nykvarn and especially Halden SK who have dominated the competition in the last decade. The women´s race is also tough to call, with strong teams including last year´s winners Ulricehamns OK, Nydalens, SoIK Hellas (winners of TIOmila this year), Bækkelaget SK and Stora Tuna OK. There is a lot of British interest in the race, with virtually all of the top elite runners taking part. Most belong to a Scandinavian club as well as their British clubs, and runners to look out for at the front end of the race are Jamie Stevenson running for Farum-Tisvilde OK, Jon Duncan running for Kristiansand OK, Dan Marston running for Bäkkelagets SK, Matt Speake running for OK Tisaren, Graham Gristwood running for IFK Lidingö SOK, and in the women´s, Jo Stevenson running for Södertälje-Nykvarn, Helen Bridle running for Göteborg-Majorna, Helen Winsk and Jenny Johnson running for Västerås SOK and Helen Palmer running for OK Ravinen. It will be possible to follow the race online, and even watch a live feed of the action through the night (see the Jukola website for details).