Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sports :: Jukola2007

This year Jukola relays took place ~450km north of Helsinki, near the town of Lapua. The story behind the relays name is quite weird, it is something about seven brothers going to the forest one by one to search for lost sisters, and none of them returned, but then the last and youngest brother Jukola finally found them all, returned home, and they lived happily ever after. Hence on Saturday 3pm Venla relays take place, for women teams - these are the sisters from the fairy tale, and on 11pm starts the Jukola relays, where 7 "brothers" head out to the forest.
We arrived to Lapua on Thursday to have some training, which was really interesting and tough. I could hardly make it under 12:00 min/km, so perpective of running last 15km leg in the relays looked quite scary.

Yaaaaawn... time for morning training session...

The competition area was pretty empty all the time until the competition day, when it suddenly filled up to the full 20 000 of people in half a day. On Saturday afternoon we went to watch Venla relays. Since there were no strong lithuanian teams, we tried to pick some team to root for, and that happened to be finish club MS Parma that had starting number 26 (this number is based on last year result), so had good chances to be amongst the leaders. Our choice was completely biased and based on watching which of the teams looked best when doing the warmup ;)

Weeee, MS Parma, go go go =)

Watching the Venla was really interesting and great fun, comentary was great, two big screens showed the action out in the forests, and it was really good to see that orienteering is becoming really spectator-friendly sport. Our favs and definetily best looking team MS Parma performed well too, taking down 5th place out of ~860 starting teams.

TV screens

After the Venla we had few hours before our start. Our team got the starting number 1022 which basically means we are very bad. I had to start early in the morning, so tried to get some sleep and failed since comentator was screaming all night long, people were moving around and sharing their stories from the race, other people were preparing for their start and strolling around the tents etc etc, so I decided better to go to watch the men race a little.

Men start... Buffallo race :)

Finish area overview
At 5am I got woken up by a teammate who said I should be getting up. I didnt want to go anywhere since it was very cold outside and mass start was supposed to take place at 8:45. Then he said our 5th leg is already well into the course which meant we're ahead of all other lithuanian teams, and amongst 400 top teams, and most likely we wont need to wait for a mass start. After realizing that I managed to get up somehow and after couple of hours started the final leg for our team. I started in 306 position. I did 2min mistake on 1st control by stumbling into two nearby controls and trying to figure out where I'm at, then another 3min mistake on 2nd control... Good thing the next few controls were pretty easy and I got into the rythm. After 1:15h I realized I might finish the course in reasonable time and thus our team would be best lithuanian team and that boosted my motivation a little. At 1:50h there were only 6 controls out of 32 left when after jumping over a rock I felt leg cramps so had to slow down a little to not get injured. There was another refreshment point with less than 2km left till the finish that I would usually skip under normal circumstances, but this time I took my time to drink 2 full cups of energy drink just to make sure I hold up that last bit :) After the last spectator control I made another mistake for 2mins on the 3rd last control, nothing too dramatic, and to make the race complete I had will-test at the very end, when I punched the last control 3sec after another dude. Good to say he stood no chance on the run-in and all in all we finished in my best ever (out of two tries:) 281st place. My time 2:11'23'' wasnt too bad for such a long course and unfamiliar terrain. Now taking some time to rest and train a little, and in two week time going to Kapa2007 3day event to Latvia, where I'm going to run Men21Long course.

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