Jukola - Rosco Speaks!

Jukola 2008, first leg for JOK.

It's really hard to know where to begin. There were so many emotions and sensations and activities and actions and reactions and thoughts and people and challenges and triumphs and disasters. And other things. And they all happened at once! For 97 really really intense minutes and 24 pretty intense hours.

Since it started at 11pm there was plenty of build up to the race and lets be honest, I spent most of it cacking my pants. I tried not to think about how I was a nervous quivering wreck - a jelly nay, a blancmange - and focused on other things like the Venla relay, the marvellous eye candy, the randomness of it all, eating, drinking, sleeping, staying calm. It really reminded me of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Not that I've been to that, but the Steve McQueen film really creates great atmosphere in the pre-race build-up - the tensionclimaxing as the clock ticks steadily towards the race start.

Miles out my comfort zone, in a way that it is important to do in life, I entered the warm up area nice and early. There were copies of the map there and I made sure I had a right good look at them. It looked difficult - exxtrrrreeeemely difficult, as the Finnish legend we met had described parts of the terrain.

Suddenly there were loads of folks in the warm-up area, dust was flying up as they ran about. I joined Tullster for a bit of a warm-up; we chatted and swore alot, as you do when you are nervous. We discussed tactics. We didn't have a clue what they should be. This did not reassure. I saw Pyrat and there was more running and excited chat and then just before the start Mr Murray "This Is What We Do!" Strain. 5 minutes to go. We lined up under our maps, the atmosphere electric, the tension palpable, the heart palpitating. I felt religious - OhGawdOhGawd! Nervous laughter: a wee false start. Sizing up competitors, stretching, twitching, breathingcalmly!. Then....Duggaduggadugga! The anti-aircraft/start-gun fired and we raced off in the dust and on and on, into the dusk.

I was aggressive off the start, not really sure where I was, but ticking off the line features we crossed to gauge progress on the long first leg. I crossed under the pylons and into the area with the control as planned and then....Disaster! Wrong control! Major Panic! Find every gaffle control and some others but not mine! Runners streaming past. Good work undone. A really long all night race and I have ruined the team's fun already! Finally sort myself out and then take advantage of the long track run to 2 to claw back some of the many places I have just lost. Okay for the next couple until I.....Get in with the wrong posse in the scramble up the hill to 5 and end up in a horribly tricky hillside. The only consolation is I am not alone in being alone. I wish it was SI so I could hear a beep. But it is not. I am too low. I go back up and find a massive group. "39?!" they exclaim. I tag on as, like a great shoal of fish, they dramatically swerve and swoop to the right and - Get In! - the control.

Afterwards, there are a few "please let this be my control"s but generally okay. I can't help feeling that I'm doing terribly, though. A couple of real big errors already. And the group I'm in seems to be going really slowly. But I can't get past - the terrain is tough out of the wee tracks. 9 though, gives another opportunity to make up time and I race round the long track route, hard. I am pleased - it has a really good attack point and I have run hard. I go in carefully (although white on the map it is low vis) and am with another guy who checks I am going for the same one. At the last minute, though, I see a big posse on the right, they must have gone straight, and I veer over, stupidly. They are wrong. I am screwed. We play hunt the flag and our sweep is finally successful. After this I am better - steady, but not too fast. All the way I am terrified I mess up and at 17 suddenly I find myself all alone. I take a rough bearing and leg it! Phew, I've caught the next group. Finally it is through some man-eating bogs and I can relax as I pick off a couple of guys round the run-in. At the handover, JonX isn't there! I can't believe it! All I can do is shout his name: "Jon Cross! Jon Cross!" I cry plaintively and finally, he pushes through the crowd, I hand over his map and it is over. Wow. I've done it. It wasn't a great performance, but it could have been much much worse.

Afterwards, all the guys I meet are wired! Who needs drugs? High on life!

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