What is Jukola Relay?
Sami Leinonen: The Jukola Relay is the world’s largest orienteering relay race. The start time is around 11 pm, so the race goes on through the night. Jukola coincides with the women’s race, the Venla Relay. On an average year, more than 18 000 orienteers take part, making it Finland’s largest amateur sporting event. When you include the companions, carers, media and spectators who stay up all night with the contestants, Jukola attracts a crowd upwards of 50 000 people.
We had a total of 12 500 participants from around the world this year. There were teams from Denmark, Sweden and Germany, among others.
Jukola is held in a different location each year. We’ve had the event in Rovaniemi once before, in 1980. This time, the corona pandemic extended the preparations to a whopping eight years. Originally, the race was slated for June 2020, but we pushed it back a year and then postponed further until August 2021. This may have been the first autumn race we’ve ever had.