Helsinki City Trail seen from the Land Down Under

Photo: Poppis Suomela

Maybe the furthest away participant in 2017 Helsinki City Trail, Majell Backhausen who was visiting Finland for the Suunto Summit from Australia, tells here about his expereinces in these urban northern trails.

Johannes Parkkonen: Your time was very good and you were fifth overall in the 24km. So you clearly had decided to go very fast straight from the start. When do you normally decide your race tactic and what things influence it?

Majell Backhausen: Thanks for the kind words, there were some great runners out on the trails that day. It was a really tough and different course to what I am used to, in terms of both distance and terrain, so I really just wanted to go out there and try hard from the start. I usually start easy and try to finish events strong, but I certainly went out harder than usual at the Helsinki City Trail, which was good for the body and the mind. If it’s a goal race, something you have planned for and trained for, I think you have to practice your racing strategy throughout your training to a certain extent, or in lead up events.

JP: Was there anything specific that influenced how you decided to run this year’s Helsinki City Trail? 

MB: For me it was the shorter distance that lured me in to running with a harder effort earlier on. Being a part of the Suunto Summit and being out in the event with everyone else was also a motivating factor, to do the 24km distance and to try hard to feel stuffed by the end of it. Also they feed us well on the weekend so I had plenty of energy!

JP: Did you have any difficulties during the race? And what were the best moments?

MB: Because I am relatively tall the main difficulty was low-hanging trees! But it was a technical forest trail with a lot of tree roots and mud. They added a level difficulty, but also fun. The best moment was just being in Finland and really getting a sense of the Finnish trails and what it would be like to orienteer out here also. It all felt very Finnish and that was a great experience for a traveller.

JP: What did you think about the route?

MB: I thought it was great. I had no idea where we were going, but I had a lot of trust in the organisation and knew that eventually after all the turning and random trails we took, we would likely end up back at the finish line where the cake was waiting.  It was great to be so close to the city but still be able to run on some challenging trails. A huge benefit of Helsinki!

JP: What did you think about the atmosphere in general, along the route, and in the race village?

MB: The amount of cow bells I heard and the support from people on the course was very impressive! I didn’t understand a single word but they all sounded positive and encouraging. The race village is a perfect location and to finish on a track with a good crowd is always a good memory to take home.

JP: Are the trails here in Helsinki very different from the trails at home?

MB: They are extremely different! The mix of mud, tree roots, boardwalks, rocks, soft trail, really high single track it all makes for a great running experience and a race course. Also there are no snakes, which is very enjoyable.