Congratulations to Nina Jensen for completing the Mikkeli Marathon in Finland in a time of 4:24:22, first in her age category and third woman! Here’s her report.
Mikkeli is in South East Finland and about an hour and a half away from our summer cottage here so sounded like a good idea to enter a few months ago when I found out my original marathon, the Morpeth to Newcastle had been postponed.
The weather was a glorious 26 degrees when we arrived in the town at 1.30pm and I hoped that by the start at 3pm the temperature might have dropped, no such luck. However I was also pleased that the thunderstorms that our Finnish relatives had predicted had also not arrived (they still remember having to carry out a search for me one year in Finland when I got stuck in a thunderstorm and hail shower!)
Having found the registration which was in a school building opposite a running track I picked up my race pack and found out where to pay then dropped off my bag at the bag drop. Although all the signs and announcements were in Finnish (and way beyond my level of understanding) most of the volunteers there spoke English.
The route is a 10.5k lap which you do 4 times for the marathon, 2 for the half and once (almost) for the 10k. The marathon is the smallest of the events so I spend some time trying to spot the competition. 4 women and about 60 of us overall! All the races start at the same time so I had company for the first couple of laps, although this also meant I started off too fast and overheated very quickly. I soon realised though and slowed to a comfortable pace.
There were 4 drinks stations on the route which had water and sports drinks (a very pleasant weak lemon flavour) in cups, raisins, bananas and salted picked cucumber (more on that later) and as the route was a loop through some of the urban areas and parks in the town there was plenty to keep me occupied. The fact it was a loop also meant there were lots of marshals and the public supporting all the runners (although anything other than “good” or “good running” shouted in Finnish was lost on me!)
There was one street where young children were hosing down runners as they ran through, which I was really grateful for, although this also was the cause of huge disappointment on lap 3 (shortly after I had been lapped by the lead runner and lead out car) when the young lad and his hose had gone!
There was however another shower on the route which was there for all four laps.
The route passed through some lovely parks and past several lakes where I was very tempted to jump in to cool down. However I made do with using my empty water cups to get water out of the buckets beside each water station and pouring those over myself instead.
Pretty soon I was on my last lap and the miles (or kms as the markers were all metric) were counting down. I’d decided that I would try some of the salted cucumber at the last water station (2k to go) on my last lap just in case it had any adverse effects! Thankfully I can report there were none however the cucumber which looked very much like sliced gherkins was really salty and was very slimy (I imagine slugs taste like that).
By now I could hear the loudspeaker and tried to get my legs to run a bit faster. Pretty soon I was running in the stadium for the last time and heard my name shouted as I crossed the line. I was presented with a large gold medal and a loaf of Rye bread.
After getting changed I checked the results and saw I was 1st (and only) v40 so went to get presented with a rather large trophy.
We then went back to the school to be given a meal of vegetable stew with bread, salad and a glass of milk.
I was pleased to have picked a marathon in Finland for my 10th marathon (5th this year) and would recommend this to others to do in the future.