Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Snow Running in November

"Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood."
 -Andy Goldsworthy

In early November we got 22 cm snow in Helsinki because there was a strong wind blowing warm moist air from the sea to the freezing cold front on the south coast of Finland.

It sure was fun running on new snow already. Snow makes it easier to see as the days are dark this time of the year.

Now it looks like the weather has changed back to normal and most of the snow will possibly melt away in rain during the week ahead.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Downtown Helsinki Sea Pool Swim

The empty lawn and beach waiting for summer.
Allas Sea Pool is a new opportunity to experience an outdoor swim in downtown Helsinki. To kick off November I headed for this new cool city beach. It's easy to find by the seaside marketplace near the ferris wheel.

The seawater pool with Suomenlinna ferry in the background. 
I paid the 9€ entrance fee and changed into my swim gear in the dressing room. After taking the obligatory shower I dashed out to the nice wooden swim area with three pools: a cold 25m sea water pool, a warm 25m pool and a smaller pool for kids. The water in the pools is clean and safe to swim.

The water in the sea pool is as cold as in the harbour, only cleaner of course.
The air temperature was just above the freezing point and the sea wind with drizzling rain bit into my wet skin like a vampire on Halloween. No wonder the sandy beach and green lawn were empty. I literally got cold feet already. Without further ado I jumped in the warm pool.

You can see the glass cafe on the left and the wooden dressing rooms and saunas on the right.
The water was pleasant 27°C. I enjoyed a relaxed 1500m watching the cruise ships and Suomenlinna ferry in the harbour. I shared the fast lane with another swimmer. There were only two lanes. I bet it will get crowded in sunny weather next summer.

The warm pool has two lanes for swimmers. Silja Line cruise ship in the background. 
I finished with a dip in the refreshing 5°C sea water pool. After that I defrosted myself in the sauna. They have separate saunas for men, women and private groups. I felt pretty good afterwards in the cafe. I'll probably visit Allas again in the future.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Helsinki City Trail 21km

Helsinki City Trail in mid-October is the biggest trail running event in Helsinki and the second largest in Finland after Bodom Trail in May. Both are 21km races with a couple of shorter distance options.

Nice forest paths around 9km. (Photo: Satu Tala) 

21km course in starts at Paloheinä hill and climbs it again after a 10K loop in the Northern woods. Then it heads South to Laakso, where the finish area is.

I'm not generally too fond of point-to-point courses, but in this case it wasn't a problem for me. I could easily reach both the start and finish by bus in just a few minutes away from my home.

Running the last uphill. (Photo: Onevision.fi / Juha Saastamoinen)

HCT is entirely in the Central Park, which is a wild forest area within the city. There are small undulating hills and the total elevation gain is only 370m. The trails are mostly quite runnable, but there are some rocks and roots, and a few surprises. This time around the weather was cloudy 4-5°C drizzle, but it was only slightly damp - not muddy or slippery really.

My final sprint across the granite boulders. (Photo: Karri Jalava)

My main goal for the race was to have fun and finish without re-twisting my left ankle. I enjoyed the run very much and finished in 2:14. This was my shortest race since a half-marathon in 2010. Trailrunning is slower, but I don't miss those fast road races at all. Times have changed.

The fastest 21km runners on the podium. The winner Henri Ansio with his hand up ran 1:21.

Helsinki City Trail is organised by Classic Trails Finland. The same non-profit association is behind Nuuksio Classic Trail Marathon in September. They do a really good job. Also the volunteers are great. These guys are the best, but don't take my word for it - please participate yourself next year!