“The rocket of the fourth leg” leads the IOF team to Jukola

Posted on | June 15, 2010 | Category: News

When the IOF Council for the first time takes part in the biggest orienteering relay in the world, it is not a beginners’ team that stands on the start line. First leg runner Leho Haldna, Estonia, was called “the rocket of the fourth leg” in Juvan Jukola 1990, where he was an amazing 6 minutes faster on the leg than the second fastest runner! Haldna is a 19-fold Estonian Champion, who finished fourth in the World Orienteering Championships relay in 1989.

 The IOF Council team will participate in the Jukola relay this weekend in Kytäjä, Finland.
Photo: Mikko Salonen

On the second leg the IOF Council is represented by Timo Ritakallio, Finland, who has experience from 32 Jukola relays so far. Ritakallio is also a familiar face at the World Masters Championships where he has competed 12 times during the years.

The long night leg was originally planned for the night orienteering specialist Marcel Schiess, Switzerland. Due to an unfortunate ski accident Schiess had to cancel his participation, and was replaced by the IOF Ski Orienteering Commission member Antti Myllärinen, Finland.


Debutants and experienced Jukola visitors

The shorter legs, fourth and fifth, are run by Astrid Waaler Kaas, Norway, and Brian Porteous, Great Britain. Waaler Kaas finished twenty years ago 18th in the Venla relay, but will now make her debut performance in Jukola. Brian Porteous is a first-time runner in Jukola as well, although he was present at Jukola in Ruokolahti in 1977. He was back then the national team coach, and the British team was in Finland to prepare for the 1979 World Championships.

IOF Sports Director, Björn Persson, will run the sixth leg 36 years after his debut in Jukola. Persson also took part in the previous Kytäjä-Jukola in 1981, and is eagerly waiting for as unique experiences this time.

The only IOF team member that has never before been to a Jukola relay is the last leg runner Laszlo Zentai, Hungary. However, Zentai participates in more than 50 orienteering events per year, and has lived in Espoo, Finland as an exchange student, so he will certainly manage the longest and toughest leg of the relay with success.

Jukola relay is held annually in Finland since 1949. This year the start is at 11 PM on 19 June, which means that the first leg runners will need to wear headlights. The winning team crosses the finish line early on Sunday morning. Jukola will be broadcast live in Finnish TV, and online results will be available throughout the night on the Jukola homepage. The IOF Council is running with number 1000, and aiming to finish amongst the top 1000.

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