This one had a special flavor. Maybe because it had been more than 2 years since my last road marathon (Boston).
I particularly like northern European countries for their simple and uncomplicated way of living. If this detail is noticed throughout the city of Helsinki, the same happens in the biggest running event in Finland, which includes the marathon in the country’s capital, the Helsinki City Running Day. It is indeed a full day with several races that start at 9:00 am and continue until the end of the day with the start of the marathon at 2:00 pm next to the Olympic stadium that hosted the 1952 Olympics.
Travel, accommodation and registration for the race
There are direct flights from Lisbon and flights with stops from Porto. We had a stopover in Frankfurt where we stayed for 12 hours, which turned out to be a good option because we got to know the city relatively well by taking a trip on a tourist bus.
Accommodation in hotels in Helsinki is not exactly cheap. It made up for us to stay at the hotel that has a partnership with the organization of the event. If they are in a group or as a family, it pays to rent an apartment in the city center. An apartment for 4 people costs around €100/day, the same price as the hotel (this one with breakfast included).
Registration for next year’s marathon (which will take place on May 14, 2022) costs €60 at this time and will increase as the race date approaches.
By the way, I invite you to read the article “how to travel cheap for marathons” that I published here and which may be useful for those who want to travel to marathons across borders.
Helsinki is a beautiful, pleasant, clean city with a very efficient transport system. With a daily ticket of 8€ (zone A and B) per person, we can travel by train, tram, bus and ferry to the island of Suommenllina. Purchasing a city transport ticket is cheaper when purchased on the city transport company’s app. The bike path network is excellent and shared bicycle rental costs €5 per day or €10 for 3 days, which can be purchased in the same application mentioned above.
Points of interest to visit in the city
Esplanadi, Kauppatori (Commerce Square), Suomenlinna Fortress, Helsinki Cathedral, Ateneum Art Museum, New Helsinki Library Oodi (give priority if you don’t have time to see everything we advise here), Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden, Sibelius Park, Temppeliaukion Church (give priority in case you don’t have time to see everything we recommend here).
If you have a free day, you can take the ferry and go to Tallin (Estonia) on a journey that crosses the Baltic Sea and takes about 2 hours.
If you’ve already participated in big international marathons, chances are you’ll be disappointed with Expo Marathon. These are small stands at the exit of the Olympic stadium, where there is no shortage of offers from beer, yoghurt, ice cream and some sales stands for some sports brands. In half an hour you will see everything.
The course is one of the most beautiful and pleasant I have ever run in road marathons. Almost all of it is done on bike paths, devoid of bicycles that day. They are wide roads with a regular and comfortable floor. When it’s not on bike paths, it’s in parks (sometimes they’re even bike paths in parks) with trees, silent, which gives real pleasure to running.
Looking at the race profile, the course may look flat but it isn’t. There are several climbs and some of them done twice as the route is circular (it is not, however, a half marathon done twice). The climbs are neither long nor very steep but they are there in one or another access to a park or to some existing bridges. Having to go up and see a sign that says 15 km for example and in the same place saying 35 km, it is a sign that 20 km later you will have to do it again and obviously more worn out. The steepest kilometer was precisely the last one, where access to the stadium entrance forces you to go around part of it.
Don’t count on a noisy audience like many marathons do. What exists is nice and in the parks they are in families or isolated with a music column there to cheer you up and one or another supportive group of local runners.
In summary, I really enjoyed participating in the marathon and getting to know the city. Do I recommend it? Yes. Without a doubt.
Photo: Ana Maria Freitas
Video: Pedro Silva
About Vitor Dias
Autor e administrador deste site. Corredor desde 2007 tendo completado 60 maratonas em 17 países. Cronista em Jornal Público
e autor da rubrica Correr Por Prazer em Porto Canal
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