Course setter’s blog

Porvoo Borgå Jukola 2023 course setter’s blog


Final tips from course setters


The past week has been tough and sweaty for all the volunteers at Porvoo Borgå Jukola, as well as for the course setters. As a successful volunteer effort, we took control flags and about 550 emit punching units to the terrain last weekend. After that, with a smaller group of Stefan, Pekka and Mikael Salo, we started inspecting over 150 control points and their punching units one more time. From now on, control points will be monitored by strict groups of supervisors led by Petteri Muukkonen. Despite the heat, it has been reassuring to go around for the last time to see the results of our long-term work, expecting thousands and thousands of Jukola orienteers to be the next to punch at the control points.

In addition, we have taken strips of forbidden areas to the terrain. Check the competition instructions to see what they look like and how forbidden areas are marked on the map. Forbidden areas are indeed prohibited. They are supervised and going to them will result in disqualification from the competition.

There has been almost a “traffic jam” in the Jukola Relay training tracks. The tracks set by Mikael Salo have been praised for their challenging nature. In part, they describe well what the Jukola competition terrain itself will offer. Finishing touches to the competition can still be continued with model orienteering located right next to the competition centre, the maps of which are about to be sold. It’s worth training there too.

On behalf of the course setters, we wish everyone a sunny and enjoyable Jukola weekend and success in orienteering with the following latest tips:

  • Drink, drink and drink enough! We can’t escape the heat of the weekend, so staying hydrated is very important before and after the race. And, of course, during the race with refreshment points. The terrain of Epoo is heavy in places and the heat increases the strain of orienteers. The course setters’ previous instruction “throttle on the bottom but with one foot on the brake” can also be a valuable hint from the point of view of coping.
  • Enjoy Jukola’s unique atmosphere and performance. In a large group, the queues of orienteers in the forest are tempting, but remember to orienteer yourself and punch at the correct control points, always checking the control code. There can be control points close to each other, but the control code is also printed next to the control sequence number, indicates the correct one.
  • The last control point is descended a rather steep and bumpy slope. It is difficult to restrain the orienteers in the last leg, but especially in the first legs, take those last meters of the track carefully and do not ruin your good performance with a last-minute injury. The final sprint can then be performed in the home stretch.
  • After the race, remember to also carry out an important tick check yourself and with the help of your competition partner!

Stefan and Pekka


What orienteers face in Porvoo Borgå Jukola

Less than a month to Porvoo Borgå Jukola. In various competitions and exercises, orienteers will certainly perfect both their orienteering readiness and physical fitness for one of the most challenging races of the orienteering season. The question we have also been asked on various occasions is what kind of tools can be used to achieve good performance in the forests of Epoo. The use of the training areas and courses has been very active, but do they really tell us what orienteering will be like in the Jukola competition terrain itself day and night? We answer yes and no to this and at the same time that the terrain of Epoo is somewhat of a mix of Karhunkorpi, Norike, Holken and, in small, nice parts Virvik. In other words, a mix of better and more challenging terrain types from Eastern Uusimaa.

The competition terrain is located between the Epoo village centre in Porvoo and Seitlahti – Voolahti. In the northern part of the terrain, no competitions have been held for more than 30 years. In the southern part a competition was arranged in 2003. Old maps of the area are available on the Porvoo Borgå Jukola website.  Yes, getting to know them gives you an idea of the terrain on some level, but training in our training terrain gives you an idea of the nature of the terrain in Eastern Uusimaa itself.

The competition area of Porvoo Borgå Jukola is varied and diverse orienteering terrain, alternating between steep sharp-edged areas and extensive shallower open rock areas located more in the southern part of the area, as well as sometimes more covered and even deep forest mixed forest areas. The differences in altitude vary by terrain area, being in the order of 20-40 m. The area is characterized by the rockiness of Eastern Uusimaa, which can be seen on the map and also felt under the orienteering shoe (don’t go out into the terrain with jogging shoes!). Undergrowth also affects navigability.  In June, there are no blueberries in Epoo yet, but in some places there are thick brush. In swamps, orienteers may encounter a dense, slowing wild rosemary mattress, the smell of which at the same time is unforgettable.

In addition to slower terrain, pine-dominated open rock areas and, on the other hand, old spruce forests are fast-moving. For this reason, kilometre speeds will vary significantly in different terrain areas. Visibility is mainly good, with the exception of young saplings and thickets dominated by deciduous trees. As a result of active forest management, logging, thinning and thickets of different ages are also well visible in the terrain. There are some protected areas in the area.

The area is evenly crossed by a network of forest roads, which means that there are enough points of “I’m just here” for orienteers. Apart from the tracks formed by the abundant elk and deer population, there are not many human-formed paths on the map.

In the course setting the aim has been to utilise all the different terrain types offered by the area and to offer challenging orienteering tasks for all sections from the start to the very last control points. The course setters have had access to a very good orienteering map, which can be said to describe all the diverse terrain areas excellently.

Yes, not to forget; how to prepare yourself to Jukola! Train your running focused and keeping your balance in terrain with small stones and uneven bottom, holding back speed and saving strength on soft-bottomed brush, and accelerate in good-bottomed “troll” forests, open areas and open cliffs using their edges.  At the same time, observe and read only the essential thing on the map; perceive what guides and leads to the control points and leave the individual stones alone, there will be plenty of them to read in other ways as well. In rally terms, to quote our Finnish gravel road heroes: throttle on the bottom with your foot suitably on the brake, already anticipating the next bend and jump.

Stefan and Pekka

Snow melting and maps ready – towards Porvoo Borgå Jukola
When we were asked a few years ago about our willingness to become course setters in Porvoo Borgå Jukola, we didn’t hesitate for a second. We have a background in setting orienteering courses from almost 30 years. Being a course setter of the Jukola relay is a honorary task for all of us involved in the work and, of course, one of the dreams for any course setter. The task is demanding, and the responsibility is big, but we also feel that we have also received a position of trust from both our own club and Kaukametsäläiset ry, which owns the organizing rights for Jukola.Pasi Liitiäinen, who works many hours as the chair of the Map and course committee, has created a framework for our work. Pasi is well-known orienteering activist from eastern Uusimaa. For the two of us, Jani Virta and Mikael Salo have also been appointed as substitutes. Mikael is also responsible for the Jukola relay training courses, which have been in use in Karhunkorpi, Norike and Virvik areas already last year, and will be in use again after the snow has melted. This group of five is the core group that knows exactly where the Venla and Jukola relay courses will run in June 2023.The planning of the Jukola and Venla relay courses was launched in 2019–2020 after OK Trian was determined to organize the race already in 2022. However, the corona pandemic famously postponed the race a year later.All Jukola relay control points were marked in the terrain during June and July 2022, when they were also inspected by the race’s course controller. The approval of the control points was the starting point for the final finishing and final drawing of the courses. This, perhaps the most accurate phase of the entire course-setting work, took place at the end of 2022. The maps were printed and personalized by Grano Ltd. in February 2023, after which they have been enclosed in plastic covers and sorted into team maps, four for Venla and seven for jukola relays. Personalization refers to the section-specific marking according to the competition number of the maps, for example, “Venla relay 2023, team 123, 3rd leg”. Thanks to modern printing technology, personalization can be done very quickly with a printing machine directly on the blank side of the race map. SInce the Venla and Jukola relays consists of many different courses and maps, we invested in personalization with special care.The maps sorted by teams are pre-arranged in team-specific map covers, which will eventually be placed on the map exchange racks in the exchange area. At the same time, it is checked once again that the different teams have such a map combination that the forking described above is fulfilled. After that, the maps are stored in a safe place to wait for the relay race itself in the summer. The return maps given to the teams after the race serve as a “safety stock” in case of damage and accidents and are stored in a different location from the competition maps. Both, of course, in secret safe places.In addition to the course setting itself, we have done work in the competition terrain with our awesome volunteer group in other ways as well. The construction of the control points and TV broadcasting platforms, which took place in the autumn of last year, was carried out within its planned schedule by a separate group of builders. Around 550 individual control structures were built, as the individual control have several punching units due to the large number of orienteers.

The competition map covering an area of over 15 square kilometers in Porvoo Borgå Jukola was mapped by one of Finland’s best map drawer professionals, Jussi Silvennoinen. Since the first version was completed already in 2020, there have been needs for updates, especially regarding harvesting, as well as the description of runnability.  When we had the courses ready in practice, it was essential to consider the exact correspondence of the map to what orienteers can observe in the terrain with different route selection options and what kind of route choices they can make. This is especially important in night orienteering, although usually most of the observations on the map are made with light. We already had a top-quality orienteering map in our hands last year, but the need for updates has just come for different reasons. In our next blog, we will then open in more detail what the terrain of Porvoo Borgå Jukola will offer orienteers.

Stefan & Pekka


Porvoo Borgå Jukola 2023 course-setter

Stefan Karlsson

turns 52 this year
Expert in automation and optimization at Neste Corporation, Doctor of Science (Tech.)
Orienteered around 30 Jukola relays, first in Tampere in 1986
Part of Jukola relay 1995 course setting group
Course setter in the Finnish championships (extralong distance) 1998, FinnSpring 2012, Relay league final 2022, many Raatojuoksu -competitions and other national competitions


Pekka Vuorinen

turns 63 this year
Director, Environment and Energy, M.Sc. (Tech.) at the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT
orienteered 37 Jukola relays, first in Laitila in 1985
Course setter in the Finnish Championships (extralong distance) in 2007, several Huippuliiga sprints, FSOM 2014, Relay league final 2022 and several other national competitions