It is no accident that Scandinavian marathons are all held during the summer. At 60 degrees north, the clear sun and long hours of day-light generate a special atmosphere. Last year’s Helsinki City Marathon (HCM) was no exception, and as Finland’s largest marathon, it more than met the expectations of runners. This year, HCM will try to exceed those expectations again.
Last year, Helsinki City Marathon introduced a new route, and we received positive feedback from runners. During the event, 3500 runners took to the streets of Helsinki, with 1000 of them coming from 63 other countries. There is also a growing number of participants in the kids Chiquita Minimarathon. The 17-kilometre race Perskindol Helsinki Street Run has also proved to be a success. There were 6000 participants spread over all events.
Photo: Juha Saastamoinen / OneVision
Runners’ wishes were central in planning the new course for the Marathon. The new scenic, two-lap course is faster and stays closer to the city centre. Everyone runs in the same direction the whole time, which makes running smoother and safer. The pedestrian street Baana that splits Helsinki city centre and the Töölönlahti Bay area will be lined with spectators cheering the runners on.
Every year, more and more runners from other countries discover the appeal of the Helsinki City Marathon. One of the 2015 international participants, Damian Quiroga from Argentina’s second-largest city Cordoba, admired the beauty of the city: “All attractions are within walking distance and the city centre is small and cosy. I liked the variety of the route: we ran in the city centre, along the shoreline and in the cool woods of the park. There were more hills than I’m used to, but I liked the race nonetheless.”
Sanna Norokorpi, who lives in Milan, could not stop smiling at the finish line last year: “My marathon went really well. After all the problems I encountered, I am happy that I was able to finish. I like the new route better than the old one. Mentally, I found it easier to run the same lap twice instead of running only one big lap. The atmosphere and spectators along the route were exceptional.”
For Henrik Sinisalo and Iiris Reikonen, a young couple living in Helsinki, HCM 2015 was their first marathon. “Our target was to finish the race in under five hours and to run the whole distance. We met our target, although the final 10km felt pretty tough. It was well organised — at least from the point of view of first-timers. Before the marathon, I swore I’d never run again after the race, but I might have to eat my words,” said Henrik.
This article was first published in Distance Running by AIMS (2015 vol 4, 24-25). Edited by Jarmo Koskela
Photos: Juha Saastamoinen / OneVision