Like Hood to Coast, but for orienteering
Last weekend, Jeremy participated in one of the largest (or perhaps THE largest) orienteering events in the world: the Jukola Relay, held this year near Joensuu, Finland. It's like Hood to Coast (or Ragnar) for orienteering: teams of seven people, each running one leg whose length is between 7 and 14km, in forested terrain. The relay starts at 23.00 and finishes up by noon the next day. Each runner has a map and must reach certain control points in order, as fast as possible, and then head for the exchange area and pass on a map to the next runner (like a baton).
The whole event is broadcast live on Yle (state TV) here, and the kids and I tuned in from Turku. We never caught a glimpse of Jeremy, which is no suprise considering that 1600 teams participate. But it was such a treat to see 1600 people clutching maps head into the forest all at once! Elite teams from all over the world compete at Jukola, skewing heavily toward the Nordic states (though this year Brazil, Denmark, and a few other places fielded military teams).
While the runners are running, the rest of the teammates hang out at the starting area watching the proceedings on a huge TV, or catch some sleep at a large area set aside for camping.
I can't decide if my favorite part as an observer was seeing the stream of bobbing headlamps wind through the forest at the start, or how the broadcast had cameramen on foot following the lead runners, or how at times the broadcast focused on a control point and just showed swarms of competitors swiping their emits. It really captured how popular orienteering is here, and what a fun sport it is.
I hope to participate in a future relay! To get a sense of Jukola, I recommend watching this short video they just released.