Artem Popov reflects on the season so far and his 2017 HCT win

Artem Popov wins 2017 Helsinki City Trail
Photo: Anne Dahlgren

This year I have already participated twice in trail competitions in Russia. Both times I won the first place. In Russia, I run competitions on the trail for the Inov-8 Team Russia. The first trail race was Vyborgtrail in the summer in July, which was held in the forest near the city of Vyborg, and the terrain was similar to what I ran here in Helsinki. The track was 28 km in two circles. It was very cool!

The second trail was in August, in the Caucasus Mountains Elbrus World Race. There I was at a training camp specifically for the Orienteering World Cup. And at the end of my training programme I did the final training, which was a 34 km trail. This was my most serious test of endurance in my sports career. The track was very difficult! The competition centre and the start were at 1500 metres altitude and I ran to a height of 3,500 metres. For the first 11 km the route climbed 2000 metres, so it was two hours running uphill. Then a very steep descent! Then a long section of the valley, and a few more mountains. At the finish I fell and lay without moving for 5 minutes. The weather was very hot, about 35 degrees. Yes, it was a good training session! After that, I could not walk for three days.

In September I lived and trained in Turku, with my club MS PARMA. It is interesting for me to participate in all competitions that take place in Finland. Since I train a lot, then all kind of activity suits me as an option for a good workout. A week before that, I participated in the championship of Finland in orienteering, it was also in Helsinki. I took the third place in the sprint. But I had to run only twice less than 15 minutes!

I learned about the Helsinki City Trail by chance on the Internet, when I was looking for an adventure for the weekend. I was glad to know about such an event. And my club MS PARMA helped me to participate in this competition, for which many thanks!

I wanted to do a good tempo running training in the forest, which I did. I was able to run fast enough, but before the start, I thought it would be faster. I would not say that it was a park! It was a real forest, with lots of stone trails and rocks. But I liked it! I enjoyed running in a real wild forest and changing trails.

I really liked this Helsinki City Trail event! Excellent atmosphere like a sports holiday. The track was well marked and the volunteers showed directions to run. There were four points with water – it’s good. But I only drank twice, and ate only two energy gels. The competition centre was good. All the amenities and everything is clear. It’s good that the start and finish this year were in one place. Good gifts for the first place, even this I did not expect! If I can participate again in the future, I will definitely do it! I liked how quickly there were photos and news about what was happening – it was online on Facebook. And in the evening there were many photos and even video from the distance, when I climbed into one single mountain at a distance.

This year, after the end of the orienteering season, I will run other trail competitions in Russia. In my plans are at least three starts from 20 to 70 km.