Jukola countdown: Olav Lundanes and Paimion Rasti ready for the fight

Olav Lundanes and Paimion Rasti are ready for the Jukola weekend. Pre-camps and trainings and competitions in similar terrains have prepared this world’s best orienteer for the challenges of Hälvälä-terrain. Many say that the depressions and partly difficult runability and hidden visibility of the Jukola 2018 terrain will make the game on this weekend interesting.

Olav with his team is ready for Jukola fight

“Actually after what I heard, I was waiting the terrain to be even more difficult than it is in my opinion”, Olav comments the rumors of the Jukola terrain.

This comment of Olav’s brings us to the fact, that world’s best orienteers know how to orienteer no matter the terrain. This why Olav doesn’t buy the idea that Finnish teams would have an advantage in the two battles of next weekend.

“All the best clubs have spent time here on their preparation camps and know what is waiting us in Jukola 2018. I foresee a tight battle where we with Paimion Rasti will do our best”, Olav concludes.



Jukola countdown: what else is there to do in Lahti area than orienteering?

Jukola week is here: only 5 more days to go to the highlight of many orienteers’ summer. With some local knowledge of this year’s Jukola area and terrain, we will be having a proper countdown to Jukola with some insider tips. Let’s start with few tips about what else to do and see around Jukola area in case you will be having few extra days to spend in Lahti.

Lahti harbour

Take a stroll and eat an ice cream, cake, cinnamon bun or why not even a pizza in one of the cosy restaurants or cafes of the harbour with a beautiful view to the calm Vesijärvi lake.

Lahti outdoor swimming pool

Lahti Sports centre offers unique views for a swim; you can do a training or just chill at the 50-meter long pool just down at the famous Lahti ski jumping hills. In case you need warm up, take a run around the ski jumping hills and get to know the famous cross country skiing tracks (but be careful, there will be some hills there..!)


The Medieval Stone Church of Hollola

Only few kilometers away from Jukola competition centre you find this beautiful and worth visiting medieval stone church that is open for tourists day time every day. Just few hundred meters behind the church there is a view point called Kapatuosian mäki from where you have nice views to the surrounding lakes, fields and forests.


Take a swim in one of the many lakes

There are many lakes to cool yourself down after your preparation training. Alone in Hollola you find many of them. One of the funniest is definitely Iso Tiilijärvi in Hollola offering a Tarzan liana: park your car to the end of Tiilijärventie, follow the path to the end of the cape and then have fun!


Buy some rye bread

Finland is well-known for its dark rye bread and some of the most delicious brands come from Lahti area. So once in a supermarket, buy some of them with!



New challenges, new perspectives and new motivation

In the year 2017 I did not have much success in orienteering but instead the year was full of new experiences for me. It was the first time I had to get a screw into one of my bones, first time I was an expert commentator for orienteering, first time I went on a canoeing trip with crutches and the foot in a cast, first time I was in Tanzania, first time I had to teach biology to a class of 45 students who did only partially understand English and first time I was at an altitude above 4500 meters above sea level.

2017 started with many challenges for me. I got a stress fractur in my left femur in the fall of 2016, so in the beginning of 2017 I struggled to get back into shape for the start of the season. I had a lot of other small injuries during the spring, mostly some acute ones, like tear of muscle fiber and twisted ankle. This was very frustrating to me, because I really wanted to compete. But I tried to keep the motivation high and did a lot of alternative training. It luckily payed off and I started competing again in May. My shape was better than I thought and it all started to look brighter… just until I twisted my foot (on a path! not even in the terrain) during a world cup race in Finland. I broke a metatarsal bone in my foot and it had to be put in cast. This was a really tough one to accept. I had just fought my way back and was now facing a new and very long rehabilitation period. And I could just as well forget all about the plans I had for the summer (because they did of course involve a lot of running and orienteering!).

My first competition in 2017: selections races for WOC 2017 (photo credit: WOC2017 organizers).
My first competition in 2017: selections races for WOC 2017 (photo credit: WOC2017 organizers).

Unfortunately, the two pieces of my bone didn’t want to find each other so they had to be put together with a screw. This prolonged the time I had to be casted and go around with crutches. Luckily, I got pretty good with the crutches and in the end, I was able to walk 2 km without breaks. It maybe doesn’t sound like much, but it was actually very tough! I tried not to let the crutches stop me from doing too many things and I was e.g. on a canoeing trip where I slept in tent. During the summer I did not feel motivated for training. The way back to being one of the best orienteers in the world seemed very long after 10 weeks with the foot in cast. Fortunately, I had something very good to look forward to: 3½ months in Tanzania together with my boyfriend, Søren.

Enjoying the Danish summer despite a broken foot. (photo credit: Jonas Munthe)
Enjoying the Danish summer despite a broken foot. (photo credit: Jonas Munthe)

I took time off study to go to Tanzania to teach at a local government school in the town Karatu in the northern part of Tanzania. After many years of training and studying in Aarhus I needed new experiences, and for sure I got that. It was a very big challenge to teach because many of the students didn’t understand English very well and most of them didn’t have books. I really had to be patient and creative in my teaching and I learned a lot from it and developed many personal skills.

Running didn’t have much focus when I was in Tanzania but I started running a little again and enjoyed every run. My focus during the stay was to get as many experiences as possible. Not all were pleasant experiences because some people were living under very tough conditions but in general I experienced so much happiness. People were very good at being happy about life and not stressing around trying to get too much done in too little time. I think many Europeans could learn a lot from this and it definitely gave me inspiration to be more present and enjoy all the good things around me. Also, I didn’t tell the people I met in Tanzania that I was a former world champion in orienteering and it was nice to be acknowledged for other things that I am good at. This I must remember when things are tough in orienteering; I am a lot more than a good orienteer.

Above the clouds at Mt. Meru.
Above the clouds at Mt. Meru.

During my stay in Tanzania I also got a good change to figure out what I missed about not being home in Aarhus and doing elite sport. I really started to miss competing and training towards a goal. It was not so much about winning but I realized that I miss being in the game and in the process of trying to develop my skills so that I have the possibility to make top level performances.

So, now I am back home in Aarhus and have started training and studying again. I feel very motivated for getting back at the top level because I just love competing and giving my all to achieve top performances. I have got some new perspectives on life and have got more aware of what drives me. I enjoy the road to the goals and I will try remembering to stop once and then to really enjoy. It is a privilege to be able to spend so much time on the sport that I love!

First competition in Denmark in 2018.
First competition in Denmark in 2018.


Disappearing from result lists and then announcing a club change to Kalevan Rasti. What’s up Miika Kirmula?

Miika Kirmula, young Finnish orienteering talent, will be running for Kalevan Rasti next year. Miika announced this suprising and hot club change from Angelniemen Ankkurit to Kalevan Rasti in between the years after a long quiet and calm period. Where and why was Miika hiding the whole autumn and how come he decided to join the already strong red-black team?

We couldnt’t find you on result lists in the 2nd half of the last season. Where did you disappear Miika Kirmula?

After WOC-relay I didn’t run any competition last season. I had problems in my groin. That was though. It was only that I finally got to train normally after a difficult winter that I was again forced to stop. I was training to WOC too much on my limits as I only started running trainings in February last year. Still I got some shape with only 90 hours of running and orienteering from November 2016 to July 2017! Surely I did other type of trainings with a motivation higher than ever.

How did you handle that disappointment?

We decided together with the doctor that the groin which already bothered me the whole winter, had to be taken care of with time. Back then it was releaving just to hang out with my parents at our summer cottage and summarize and think it all through. This was one of the hardest parts in my career this far. Was as well tough to stop the season in the middle of it but now I can say it was the only right option.


And how does the future look like now?

At the moment all looks good! My next big goal is in Norway in WOC in 2019 TOP 6. Sure there are important competitions in between too but Norway remains as the biggest goal. Next season there will be EOC and WOC and of course I try to beat my last summer’s result 19th on long distance. My winter season will include many training camps abroad.

Your decision to change club to Kalevan Rasti is for sure one of the hottest topics in the orienteering world this winter. Could you tell us your thoughts about it?

I felt like now is the right moment to try something new so that I won’t have to regret it once I am older. I guess you usually regret those things you didn’t try. I haven’t yet have many chances to hang out with my new clubmates, but many of them I know before hand and cool guys all of them! In the beginning of February we will have training camp together in Portugal and I am already looking forward to that. With a smaller group we already visited Latvia shortly.

From my old club Angelniemen Ankkurit I will miss those great friends I have and in general all people from AngA. But luckily they will stay there even though I will carry a new shirt this season.

Swimrun – a challenge for your endurance, mind and teamwork skills

Team VJ-SPORT, a former national team swimmer Juha Lindfors and a former elite triathlete Mika Luoto, will participate in Porkkala Swimrun on saturday 22/7. Both of them are experienced swimrunners with top10 results (together with their own race partners) in ÖtillÖ – swimrun world championships. Porkkala swimrun will put their teamwork skills to a test – it will be intersting to see how it goes and if we’ll see them racing together later as well.


Swimrun is a sport there the teamwork is everything – no matter if you are an elite athlete or a rookie. Even if the team members are physically in top shape, the result will probably not be good if the team members aren’t on the same page. You can’t push your team mate too hard or leave him behind when his having hard time. A rubber ribbon between the team members can help to equalize the tempo to a certain level, but trainings together will show you what you pair is capable of. And training together is fun!

Both of us, Juha and Mika, have competed in a tough indivual sport at a high level, so our background is quite similar. The both are fascinated of swimrun because it’s very different compared to our earlier experiences, but challenges the physics and the mind as well. It’s a team sport, where you’re always racing together with someone and taking care of your partner, whitch is more demanding but also really rewarding.

We believe that it’s easier for beinners to dare to participate in a swimrun race because you’ll always have a partner. Something that feels impossible may feel more like a challenge when you’ll do it together. And after a succesful race you’ll get so share the good feeling with your pair. On top of that, swimrun is actually a really natural way to excercise; after a while you won’t even remember you gear when you’re just pushing forward. The best thing is that swimrun has so many varying elements, so the time goes flying by and you get to visit beautiful places you would never visit otherwise.

/Mika Luoto and Juha Lindfors, Team VJ-SPORT


(A translation, original text in finnish)

Bring it on

I wake up and I stand up next to the bed. I ask myself: ”How are my legs feeling?”. I know it’s a stupid question, it’s already the 11th of July and I can’t do anything about it. Today is the middle distance final at JWOC, the first medal race, and I have been preparing for months. So for now, it’s all about focusing on what to do in the forest!

JWOC in Tampere in Finland will be my fourth and last JWOC. JWOC has been my main focus during the last years and this year has been no different. During those tough interval sessions in the winter, I have been thinking about how the JWOC-races will be: how I will focus before the race, how I will attack the difficult controls, how I will plan the long route choice legs and how I will suffer in the last uphill. But also about how happy I will be if I succeed and how sad I will be if I don’t. I have had the chance to experience both feelings and I know which one I would choose to have in Tampere in the second week of July.

JWOC Long simulation, before the start
JWOC long simulation training in a forest south of Stockholm in November. Hope for better weather at JWOC!

The nice thing about your own performances is that you have the chance to decide the outcome by yourself. That is not the case for results, they depend on a lot of different other factors which you can’t influence, mainly what the other runners do! So to have the chance to decide my own performance I try to be as well prepared as I can be. I have been to two camps in the Tampere region and I have been searching for relevant terrains close to my home in Huddinge, Stockholm. I will also try to prepare as good as possible physically, to have a good feeling in my legs the day of the race. But for me, it’s more important to prepare mentally, to get in the race mode and to focus on what I will do in the forest.

All three JWOCs I have been on have been situated in winter resorts: Borovets in Bulgaria 2014, Rauland in Norway in 2015 and Engadin in Switzerland 2016. This year will be different, there are no high mountains in Tampere and there are no ski slopes in the terrain. Uphill running will be in less focus than last year in Switzerland, this year there will be more focus on running in soft and uneven ground, not seldom with a few branches here and there. Precise navigation in terrain where the features are not always so distinct will be important! I look forward to meeting the terrains in Tampere because they are quite similar to the ones I have at home, and they look really challenging. And of course, the factory for VJ shoes is just outside Tampere, so they are tested here and suits well in this terrain!

Training camp in Tampere in June

However, there will be a great portion of anxiety! Have I been training well during the winter? Am I really prepared for what is waiting? What if I fail? I believe this is part of working towards a goal, the bigger the goal, the greater these feelings! I look forward to both positive and maybe some negative feelings during the JWOC week, so bring it on!

One minute left, I have recieved my control description from an organizer and in 55 seconds I will be holding my map upside down on a table and an organizer will hold my shoulder to make sure I don’t start too early. I breathe in heavily and I relax, I repeat to myself what I will focus on in the forest. I start and I flip my map, this is what I have been looking forward to!


Like a Phoenix


It was time to take a small time-out after the World Cup and a tough spring with a lots of traveling and racing. I faced my limits in the chasing start and had to quit the race. Still, somehow I’m proud that I was smart enough to listen to my body and it’s signals before it was too late.


I’m really satisfied with the first period of this season. I managed to qualify to the World Championships, I was the fastest on my leg at 10Mila, won the Huippuliiga elite cup in Finland and got a gold medal at Finnish Championships middle distance. I mean, after the motivation problems I had last autumn and winter, I really have to appreciate these results.

Kuva: Jarmo Jokila
Pic: Jarmo Jokila
Pic: Jarmo Jokila
Pic: Jarmo Jokila

I’ve been struggling with some big questions. Am I aloud to live this kind of privileged life? What is the point of my career when everything is going wrong? I still haven’t found all the answers, but step by step I’m trusting myself more and more as an athlete. The good thing is that besides orienteering, I’ve had also some other stuff going on during this spring. My career will probably continue even after this season, but I think that the best solution for me is to find something else to do as well.


Now when my energy and motivation is on a different level, it has been a relief to see that I’m still in the game. If you saw my interview after my performance at Huippuliiga in Nousiainen, you might have felt some of the feelings that I have felt inside me. My tears was a sign of gratitude and joy and pictured the fight I have had against myself.

Pic: Pekka Kinnala
Pic: Pekka Kinnala









The second part of this season started with a WOC pre-camp in Estonia and the last month before WOC is about the basics. The life is a rollercoaster, but everything is easier when you know what you want. The Phoenix bird reborns and rises from the ashes. We’ll see in what that will result at this time.



(Translated from original text)


I have postponed the writing of this blog as long as I could. It seemed that I always had something more important to do: lots of trainings, exams, university work… Or maybe I was just too lazy to take the time to reflect on the changes I made last autumn.

To me, variety is perhaps what made me love so much orienteering, and also what enables me not to give up everything after each important competition, what makes me want to go on for countless trainings. You know tomorrow will always be different. Still, one needs routine too. In training and life. To do things well, to master them, to feel confident. The key for me staying motivated is to find this balance between good routine and changes.



Last year, I started to feel I had been living and training the same way for a long time, 6 years. 6 years ago, I went back living in my home town, Lyon, and started civil engineering studies. Those years have been maybe the funniest, happiest and most enjoyable years in my life. I had also never trained so long in the same place before. And as I still have 1.5 years of studies ahead of me, this was not likely to change. Lyon is going to remain my training base for at least 1.5 years.

But I definitely started to need some changes in my life. That was something I felt deep in me, that I needed to explore new places, meet new people, or maybe just find a new challenge. As this change couldn’t come from the “French dimension” of my career, it had to come from somewhere else. I therefore took the hard decision to leave the first and only Scandinavian club I had had, OK Denseln, with whom I had developed such a good relationship and shared so many nice memories.

Destination: Uppsala and OK Linné. Tough decision, but if felt right. And still does.


Scandinavian clubs are very important for French orienteers. Not so much to prepare WOC, get daily training opportunities or find a training group, as we already have a good training environment and resources back home. But to get as close as possible to one’s best abilities, only Scandinavian clubs and competitions can provide the last bit we don’t have at home:  the pressure and nervousness of running a big relay. And team preparation as well.



It may seem not much. But it’s huge. It’s only 2 or 3 races a year. But it has so much impact on one’s development. And, as far as I am concerned, on my motivation to train and pursue my dreams and goals. Maybe I could do without OK Linné and perform well at WOC or World Cup or whatever. But I would miss the magic. Running Tiomila in a strong team, knowing I am not allowed to miss or fail, for the team. And try to win it.

That’s the kind of challenge I needed, to keep on training hard. And until now, still in the middle of winter, but closer than ever to the beginning of the season, I can say the training has been good.



Our Christmas gift: 24 answers you always wanted to know

This Christmas we asked 24 different athletes running with VJ Sport one question each. Read below 24 answers you always wanted to know.

1. Sara Hagström, Swedish orienteer: Your favorite substituting training?

My favorite substitute training is long distance xc skiing with my sister on a sunny day!



2. Olav Lundanes, norwegian orienteer: What is your biggest dream at the moment related to sports?

My biggest dream is to win both the middle, long and relay at the same WOC. I am getting closer, but there are still a lot of improvements that need to be done to achive it.

3. Anna Bachman, Swedish orienteer: How to get rid off being too nervous before competitions?

I try to think of what I can affect, like the technical performance and my worm up preparations. And not think about what I can’t affect on the competition day, like my physical shape or other conditions. If I do as good as I know I can do technically, it will be a very good race. That thought calms me down if I’m to nervous.


4. Saila Kinni, Finnish orienteer: Key to successful relay team?

It is relaxed, encouraging and joyful team spirit, where you can be as you are and orienteer as good as you can. There is no need to pretend a superhero!



5. Ida Bobach, Danish orienteer: Favorite orienteering terrain in the world and arguments for that?

The terrrains from WOC 2011 in France (middle final and relay). I felt so entertained when I was running in these terrains. The terrains were full of small features and that made the orienteering really difficult and fun.

6. Severi Kymäläinen, Finnish orienteer: What are the biggest differences between Suisse and Finnish orienteers?

The swiss are in general more laid-back, faster with the compass, and better in tolerating shitty terrains. However, they are yet to understand night-O and the misery a seemingly endless winter causes.

7. Florian Howald, Suisse orienteer: What are the biggest differences between Suisse and Finnish orienteers?

I think we Swiss orienteers in general are very structured, rational and well planned in training and orienteering. Sometimes I miss the trainings close to the limit, the spontaneous actions or the crazy stuff you can experience easily with Finnish orienteers, such as 3h-o-trainings, 4-session-days or camps where the last session is called ‘arkunnaula’ (last nail to the tomb). But I have had a lot of fun with both Swiss & Finnish orienteers and I think we are not too different after all: Also with my Swiss friends I can enjoy a good amount of Löyly in Sauna after a hard session.

8. Mikko Sirén, Finnish orienteer: How to react when you don’t achieve your goal?

Analyze your performance and take pros and cons from race. But remember to focus good things and do it like that next time!



9. Miika Kirmula, Finnish orienteer: Favourite orienteering training and arguments for that?

O-intervals in a small group, after each interval chasing start to the next interval.
Great training for handling the pressure in different kind of situations. Another benefit in group trainings that you’ll be pushing harder yourself.



10. Jonathan Albon, British/Norwegian all-round athlete: What is the most important skill needed on skyracing?

To be able to run on technical train. Without this skill it would be impossible to finish a skyraces within the time cutoffs, in addition to this the routes are often along exposed mountain passes where a slip or a trip can prove fatal.

11. Minna Kauppi, Finnish orienteer: Is there something you learned during your elit orienteering career that has helped you extra much now after your career in “normal” life?

I’ve always been active with my studies, own managering and other possibilities, which have helped me to create good skills and great contact network during my sports career.


12. Lucas Basset, French orienteer: Where to go for active holiday in France?

The best place is of course Font-Romeu in the Pyreenees, both for a training camp or for sports holidays. You’ll find everything there: snow in winter, great weather in the summer, awesome orienteering maps, beautiful hikes in the mountains, lakes to swin in or hot springs to bath in. Everything is over 2000m over the sea level, and if you’re lucky you can have a run with Mo Farah or Martin Fourcade who spend a good part of the year there!



13. Karin Karlsson, Swedish OCR-athlete: How to start OCR training?

Well, the sport OCR is basically moving your body forward, concurring obstacles on the way. If you’re about to run your first OCR, track down your strengths and weaknesses. Find a place where you can practice techniques on obstacles so you have tried it before the actual race, some techniques are really easy, you just need to practice it before the race.

14. Thierry Gueorgiou, French orienteer: One tip to improve orienteering technique?

Be honest with yourself and never go to bed without knowing what’s the true reason behind a mistake. Come back the next day and start fresh again!



15. Fredric Portin, Finnish orienteer: A lot of orienteers move to Halden – is it worth it?

It’s definately worth it, the number of orienteerers moving there every year is a evidence of that. Halden SK really want to focus on the training environment and those, who really highlight the training atmosphere there instead of going to training camps whole winter really enjoy Halden. The many events for the whole club, the high class orienteering trainings and the smile on everybody’s faces is what I will miss most from our time in Halden. I also understand why that many orienteering families settle down in the small city; it’s great to live in the Mecca for orienteerers, no matter on which level you are competing.

16. Elias Kuukka, Finnish orienteer: How to react when your little brother beats you?

Well… then he must have done really well;)



17. Anton Kuukka, Finnish orienteer: How does drawing maps improve your orienteering technique?

Mapping improves my map-reading skills and 3D-visualization. It also challenge my ability to concentrate.

18. Anton Johansson, Swedish orienteer: How to stay away from being injured?

The most important thing is to listen to your body. I know my body pretty well after experienced a few injuries the last years. I know when I should take it easier and when it’s just full speed in my training.

19. Annika Billstam, Swedish orienteer: To what pay attention on eating as a vegetarian athlete?

I’m always careful to refuel with protein which is often quoted as the nutrient that vegetarians won’t get enough of (e.g.egg. milk, cheese, eggs, beans, tofu) + food rich in iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin. To be sure I meet my needs when I train hard I take supplements designed for vegetarians with these vitamins and minerals bought at the pharmacy.

20. Lotta Kirvesmies, Finnish orienteer: What can an orienteer learn from Australia?

I would say a lot, but for orienteering the courage to run fast enough is important as well as getting to know new terrains. In general Australians are way more laid-back than Finns and I wanna take home with me the “no worries”-attitude.



21. Jerker Lysell, Swedish orienteer: How to become mästarn?

Buy a cap and spend your days in a swimming pool.

22. Hannu Airila, Finnish orienteer: How to combine work and trainings on elit athlete level?

The key is to find a good balance between the training and work. I make calendar reservations for the important trainings to be sure they will be at the first priority. The main problem is to find enough recovery time. I put focus on good sleep at nights and 2-4 times a week I take a small nap on the afternoon.

23. Maja Alm, Danish orienteer: Where to find motivation?

Motivation is very important when you want to have an elite carrer. For it is important to have high but realistic goals that I’m training hard to reach. I find it very motivating to complete a very hard training periode and really puch my limit of what I think I can do. What is really important for me to keep my motivation over time is to have an off season periode, where I’m trying to all the things and see all the people that I don’t always have time to during the season.

24. Santa Claus: Will you bring me VJ Sport shoes this Christmas?

Ho-ho-hoo, that is a secret you will find out sooner or later! If you for some reason don’t get them, I have heard that nowadays they are even sold on some stores and not only produced on my huge Christmas gift factory. Can you imagine that?


Thierry shares his knowledge with Swedish national team

The king of the orienteering, frenchman Thierry Gueorgiou, informed one month ago that season 2017 will be his last at top level (http://www.vjsport.fi/fi/farewell-tour-2017/). Back then he didn’t yet tell the big audience what are his plans after that. However today 25.11. Swedish orienteering federation announced Thierry will be a new national team coach from 2018 on.

– This is a great opportunity and also a good way to start my new career, Thierry comments to VJ Sport.

– I am really looking forward to this and it felt like a natural step to take. I have been considering coaching as my next step for some time. It is my own father who first gave my inspiration to coaching as he used to work in French national team back in the days, Thierry tells on the release of Swedish national team.


Thierry will work as one of the coaches of Swedish national team starting next season 2018. At the moment he is still fully focusing on World Championships in Otepää Estonia next summer 2017. On national team Thierry will be focusing on orienteering technique and will for example plan the training programs for the training camps. Thierry lives currently in Sweden in Uppsala with his partner former elit orienteer Annika Billstam.

– My task is to take care that no one will train better than us, we will have the best quality in our trainings. I am happy to have Annika home to test my ideas with her, Thierry says.

Swedish orienteering federation calls Thierry as a “dream catch”. The current head coach Håkan Carlsson who will continue working with Thierry is already looking forward to season 2018.