The biggest running event in Eastern Finland – Kuopio Maraton

By Iisa Manninen

Kuopio Maraton (2 September 2017) is the largest running event in Eastern Finland, filling the streets of Kuopio with runners and spectators every autumn. The event takes place in Kuopio city, located in the region of Northern Savonia, which is known as the cultural centre of Eastern Finland and a very popular outdoor recreation area. The event is held during the optimal Finnish running weather: the best running temperature in Finland is in autumn, when the warmest ‘heat wave‘ has already passed.

The 20th Kuopio Maraton features the categories of marathon, half marathon and 10K run/walk, with several series to choose from, allowing both experienced runners and amateurs to participate. The marathon route consists of two half marathon loops. The course goes through the heart of the city centre, also passing a beautiful harbour and a beach area, and also other sights around the Kuopio city, which is surrounded by a beautiful view of the lake Kallavesi. The route is relatively flat and fast with a few gentle uphills.



The city has a unique feature in its street network, where practically every second street is a pedestrian and cycle street; therefore the route will be both runner and viewer-friendly. The route has plenty of spots to support the runners on the streets. One of the popular spots is the market place, next to the street Kauppakatu, where spectators can both see the runners and explore the Savonian market-culture at the same time.

The start line is located next to the event centre of Kuopio-Hall, where most event-related services can be found. The finish line is located inside the Kuopio-Hall, where spectators can see the participants running their last metres and meet them instantly after the race.

Altogether, 2000 runners took part in the event last year, including the participants of the minimarathon for school-aged children the day before. The most popular race on the main day was the half marathon, with over 900 runners, while the marathon had almost 200 runners, and the 10K race attracted about 500 participants altogether in the walk/run-series. In 2014, there were 27 international runners from 16 countries. Next year, more than 2000 runners are expected to participate on the main day.


The first Kuopio Maraton was held in 1998 in the area of Rauhalahti, close to the city centre of Kuopio. The main organiser was Ari Järveläinen, also known as “the father of Kuopio Maraton.”

“I had participated and explored many marathon events around Finland and abroad. In the late ’90s, there were no running events held in Kuopio. One day in a meeting of Sisu-Veikot (a sports organisation in Kuopio until 2011), I suggested organising a marathon event in Kuopio. I was told that it was “such a good idea; make it happen.” So, I did it — I made it happen.”

The race location has changed over the years. The start and finish line were changed to Kuopio-Hall last year, and the route was also updated to offer more diversity of views and landscapes in Kuopio, a change that got positive feedback from the participants and spectators.

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Photos by Kuopio Maraton

Kuopio Maraton, 2 September 2017