Thursday, July 19, 2018

NUTS Ylläs Pallas 134km: Nordic Walking on Sunshine


And now for something completely different.

I've wanted to give Obstacle Course Racing a try for a long time. In a way, my wish was granted in NUTS Ylläs Pallas 134km. It's dubbed the most scenic ultra trail running race in Finland. I learned the hard way that it's also one of the toughest.

Ooh yeah!

I flew up north to Rovaniemi at the Arctic Circle on Thursday. My friends Harri, Petri and Samuli picked me up there for a 3-hour drive further north.

We stayed the night by the finish line in Hetta.

The weather seemed unusually sunny and warm this year.

I'm walking on sunshine, wooooah!

On Friday afternoon we took the bus to the start in Ylläs. I hanged out at La Sportiva stand until the 6pm start.

The fell was steep, covered with rocks that made running difficult and hot as Finnish sauna.

The steep downhill on the other side stole the strength from my legs.

Next in line was the infamous Pirunkuru (Devil's Gorge) which made me laugh. Poles were allowed, but they were pretty much useless weight here.

Hey! Alright now...

[Stupid joke alert mode] I kicked my left foot on a sharp rock and it hurt real bad, but the doc at the aid station said I'd be all right. [/Stupid joke alert mode]


Woooah yeah! And don't it feel good!

Running through the night in an amazing landscape lit by midnight sun. No need for headlamps in this race. There are no words to describe this experience. All I can say is that it was well worth all the trouble. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

I'm walking on sunshine, wooooah!

Ultra trail running ain't rocket science. Just make sure your pain threshold stays higher than your IQ. That's all there is to it. It doesn't have to be a big glitch, when it's in your head.

Wow! And don't it feel good, hey yeah!

I knew the distance is only 83 miles, but it sure felt like a 100-miler. Those sure are some long kilometers up there on the lonely fells.

Before the last fell Pyhäkero my legs felt hot, so I soaked them in an ice cold stream. This was a good idea, as it made me feel great.

Finally I saw the finish line and sprinted on the red carpet. NUTS Ylläs Pallas 2018 done in 26 hours and change!