Last weekend, the town of Lappeenranta hosted one of the greatest competitions of relay orienteering in the world. The Jukola relay has been a massive two-year push for the organizers. UPM supported the traditional competition that took place in a mini-Olympic-style village in the middle of beautiful Finnish woods.
In Lappee-Jukola, tens of thousands of orienteers and orienteering fans gathered together in Lappeenranta, South Eastern Finland. For the organizers, Lappee-Jukola was a massive push. UPM was one of the most visible sponsors, and the UPM Kaukas mill was involved in organizing the event for two years. Communications Manager Antti Ratia was the head of the Jukola project at UPM. He sensed the unique atmosphere of Jukola many times even before the actual event.
“We had a very positive, active and helpful ambience. UPM wanted to support Jukola relay once again, since the spirit of the event goes very well together with our world, values and our company brand. The forest is so much more than just a stock for raw material. It is also a place of recreation, and orienteering is a wonderful recreational activity.”
Parts of the relay were run on UPM’s lands, and the last leg of the competition was hosted by the company.
”We supported the event financially and supplied the competition centre with e.g. timber for bridges, gates, saunas, toilets, and a church – whatever a small village needs”, Antti Ratia says.
Like a small Olympic village
Despite the challenging weather conditions, the spirit of Jukola was as high as ever.
”The famous Jukola spirit is created when many people who share the same values come together. It is an incredible moment when 1,700 people are standing at the starting line in the dim night and the sea of forehead lamps starts to move. You get chills down your spine”, says Lauri Kunnas, who participated in the relay in one of UPM’s own teams.
The competitions centre in Lappeenranta truly resembled a small village in the middle of nowhere. It was built on a field surrounded by forests, close to the village centre of Raippo.
Since over 30,000 people were participating the event, it demanded a huge effort in advance. The organizers built roads, electricity, a communications network and water supply for the scene. The visitors and orienteers had 17 restaurant lines to choose from.
There were over two thousand volunteers working at the scene last weekend. The Finnish military also assisted in the fluent functions of the giant event.
UPM supported Jukola for example by donating wood for bridges, gates and other wood elements.
Meetings and cooperation
For UPM, supporting Jukola relay means celebrating a great sport on one hand, and casual business meetings on the other hand. The company cooperated with e.g. The Regional Council of South Karelia, a joint municipal authority of nine member municipalities. The most prominent Finnish customers of UPM Kaukas mills joined UPM at the company’s stand.
UPM had five teams in the competition. One of the personnel teams competed in the Venla relay for women, and four teams took part in the male (or mixed) competition, Jukola relay.
Jukola relay is part of UPM’s ”Biofore Share and Care” programme. The programme focuses on projects that are relevant to both UPM’s business and responsibility goals.
Main picture: Petri Jauhiainen