Bryan Keely of the Aussie Bushrangers team is in the Finnish forest on the last leg of seven in the Jukola Relay as I start writing this, currently holding 245th place at about the halfway mark on his 15.1km leg.
Notably for Eureka, though, Ian Lawford opened the event for the Bushrangers early this morning, in the daunting mass start of 1632 runners. The run from the start line to the start triangle is a lengthy one over open land with spectators either side, and looks like the start of a typical fun run here – a bobbing sea of coloured headbands and headlamps! Noone dares stop for fear of being trampled, until the triangle is reached when the whole group slows to a crawl and the orienteering begins in earnest.
Looking at the radio control split times, there’s a lot of queueing and blind following on the first leg, until the field sorts out the early leaders from the rest and runners start finding themselves a little more independent. It thus looked very difficult to gain many places on Leg 1, due to the sheer number of runners involved and limited opportunities to “queue-jump”. To Ian’s credit though, he was able to gain the Aussies 107 places, from 253rd place at the first radio control after 2.7km, to 146th place at the end of his 12.2km leg, and he was less than 11 minutes behind the leaders at the first changeover. Well done Ian!!
I watched much of the race live on Finnish TV, and though I didn’t understand much of the Finnish commentary, the production of the coverage was brilliant, including live GPS tracking of the leaders, route choice analysis, interviews in the “studio” with champions, TV cameras out at all the radio controls, and even a live cross to the men’s change rooms for up-to-the-minute recovery progress – modesty is obviously not an issue on Finnish TV!!!
Cheers, Ian C
The Bushrangers complete team progress is here: