Today I participated in 57th Paloheinä Marathon in Helsinki. It was going to be a sunny clear day, certainly the hottest day of the year so far. Most of the participants - probably wisely - chose the half or quarter marathon, but not me of course. It was going to be a full marathon or nothing for me.
The route of this low-key marathon consists of eight 5.27 km out-and-back loops in the forests of Paloheinä.
The relatively flat course is unmarked, and with lots of trails and paths everywhere it's really easy to take a wrong turn. The official course is the optimal route, so when you get lost, it will automatically cost you more time and distance. First-timers are encouraged to follow others until they learn the right way.
Nevertheless one competitor got unfortunately a bit tired and lost. I heard she had was eventually taken to the hospital with an ambulance. I'm not sure what happened, but we heard she was a rookie and obviously made the usual mistakes. We were quite concerned when the police arrived looking for her in the forest, and everyone tried to ask people if they had seen her.
There's only one aid station. It's located at the race HQ in the start/finish area. The photo below is taken just before the start at 11 AM. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, unlike in many big city events.
In the next photo RD Anders shouts advice and split times to marathon runners. The guy runs the whole event pretty much single-handedly - I bet he sweats as much as us runners, if not more!
One of the runners pushed his 19-month-old son, who was able to take a nap while daddy raced.
Finally, this is a photo shot by RD Anders of a happy me after 42.2 km in 3:30. I'm very pleased with the results as I ran the same race last summer in 4:18, and it wasn't quite as warm then. A 48-minute improvement is not bad in one year, so I must be doing something right.
What's more, I finished first overall! Surely that's only because all the fast guys were in the Stockholm Marathon yesterday. Well I guess you can't really complain when you are almost 47, and win any marathon whatsoever.
I was able to maintain the pace (about 5 min/km) all the way (my half-marathon split was 1:45). That was a pleasant surprise, as I have often been forced to slow down in the second half.
By the way, although I have a backpack in the photo, I didn't run with it. So I didn't get anything to drink except at the official aid station after each 5.27K lap. I decided to wear the lightest shirt and shorts I own as well as my trusty Brooks ST Racers with X-Action compression socks, and no doubt that was a pretty good call today.