Sunday, October 1, 2017

Pääkaupunkijuoksu Glitsché

Pääkaupunkijuoksu half marathon seen through Glitsché app. It’s my shortest race in 2017, but my son’s longest run ever!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Ghost finisher

Triathlon Long Distance European Champioship will take place again in Almere (Amsterdam, Holland) next week. Let's hope the weather will be less stormy than on 17th August 1991, when I took part in this Europe's oldest 'ironman'-distance race.

The whole week had been calm and sunny. The course was advertised as fast and flat. I was ready to set a new PR in under ten hours.

The race morning appeared stormy as hell. The waves in the sea looked like big hills. The 3800-meter swim was a blurred struggle for survival.

On the 180-km bike course the wind blew gravel on the wet roads. Both of my tubular tires were punctured. I carried two spare tubes, which I managed to install with cold hands. On the last lap both of my spare tires blew off as well. I had to cycle the last 40km with an empty back tube and the last 20km with a flat front tire as well. They were right, 'flat' described the course well.

The rain stopped during the run, but it was still windy. I ran a great marathon, finishing in 11 hours and change. It wasn't a new PR, but it was certainly a strong performance I could feel proud of forever.

Today I checked the website of Challenge Almere. They have all the old results online, so I searched for my name from the 1991 list. It wasn't there! Nothing about my lifetime achievement. I had always assumed I was a finisher, but I had never actually checked the results before. I have absolutely no idea why my result was omitted 26 years ago.

A philosophical question: Did I really finish, or was it just a dream?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Story of a Trophy

I found an old trophy with a plate: "Laulajan lenkki 64km 1995 IIIp Miehet".
Singer's Loop 40 miles 1995 3rd place men.

I was able to scan two photos of me running in this race. The cross-country skiing type large front & back bib was number 14. My minimalist gear included shabby shorts, worn-out shirt, huge sunglassed, white tube socks and thin-soled running shoes.

My 'Flock of Seagulls' hair was blowing in the wind. That style may have been fashionable back in the day.

I wondered what is the story behind this cheap trophy? Why had I kept it all these years? I've never been much of a materialist, so I tend to throw everything away.

Luckily I managed to download the Finnish ultrarunning magazine 'Ultrajuoksija' 2/1995. Editor Tero Töyrylä had published a few pages about the event with interviews and results.

This road race had been organized in Vammala (a former town in South-Western Finland, now a city called Sastamala) since 1990. The singer was one of the competitors: Mauno Lampimäki. He had recorded countless songs with his dance band. The start and finish was at Myllymaa sports centre. In 1995 there were thirty runners in the race, which was a big increase from previous years. Ultrarunning was definitely booming.

On Saturday, May 13th the weather was clear, cool and windy. After eight years of ironman-distance triathlons, this was my first ultrarunning race ever. In October 1994 I had ran my marathon PR 2:55. In 1995 I had increased my running mileage from 70 to 100 km/week. Two weeks before I had ran a 53km test training run with promising results.

I gave it my best shot. In those days I didn't eat carbs, so there was no energy supplementation whatsoever. I may have received a cup of tap water during the race, but that's all. The course was pretty tough. My marathon split was 3:20. The route was marked, but I wasn't quite sure where to go on two occasions. In both cases I was able to confirm the right direction with someone.

I finished strong in 5:04.08 in 3rd place. I don't recall feeling tired at all. Petri Orava won with 4:25.28 and Alf Granvik came second in 4:58. Maria Tähkävuori was the first woman.

I was happy with my ultrarunning debut. It had been fantastic to run with legends like the Montela twins (Kalevi and Olavi) and Kalevi Saukkonen (who has run over 2100 marathons). Mauno the singer finished as well. He probably sang too, but I had to head back to Helsinki.

I ran Laulajan lenkki again the next year, finishing 5th with 5:37:37, over 30 minutes slower time. I have never been able to run a faster 40-miler than on that windy Saturday in 1995.