Running and rowing under the midnight sun
In summer, when Finland’s 188,000 lakes have thawed and the Nordic sun dominates the night as well as the day, Finns pull on their running shoes or grab their oars and venture outdoors with a passion.
Taking advantage of the magical midnight sun, each year tens of thousands of people join some of the world’s largest, oldest and most well-known running and rowing events in Finland.
PADDLING ACROSS THE LAND OF A THOUSAND LAKES
Suomi Meloo Kanoottiviesti, Finnish for ‘Finlandia Canoe Relay’, is the longest canoe/kayak relay in the world.
Every June, over 400 participants from Finland and abroad paddle at an average speed of six kilometres per hour across 500 kilometres of lakes and rivers, drawn en masse to the waters bathed in the light of the midnight sun.
In 2013 more than 50 corporate, club and family teams, made up of six to 12 paddlers each, launched their canoes or kayaks from Kemihaara on the northeast border near Russia, ending up five days later at Tornio on the west coast bordering Sweden.
THE GREATEST ROWING SPECTACLE IN THE WORLD
It’s been called the greatest rowing spectacle in the world. Each year in July, thousands of rowing enthusiasts head for Lake Saimaa, the largest lake district in Europe, for the four-day Sulkava Rowing Race.
Sulkavan Suursoudut, as the Finns call it, takes place in Sulkava, 300 kilometres northeast of Helsinki. One of the world’s largest rowing races, this annual 60 km rowing contest attracts over 8,000 spectators and more than 5,500 participants, about 250 of them foreigners from at least 18 countries.
To compete in the Sulkava Rowing Race, boats must be constructed from wood and conform to traditional Finnish designs. Distances range from the traditional 60 and 70 km races to the more recent additions of shorter 4 km and 20 km races. The 70 km race includes camping overnight on one of the islands.
finding your way through forests at MIDNIGHT
The annual Jukola Relay is the largest relay orienteering competition in the world and arguably the biggest sports event in Finland, held each year at different locations across the country.
Taking place in June each year, it attracts almost 40,000 spectators, more than 16,000 athletes and over 1,600 of the world’s best orienteering club teams, including about 3,000 international competitors from some 20 different countries.
Starting at 11 pm on a Saturday night when the sun begins to sink below the tree line, runners launch themselves into the magical, light forests.
With seven runners in each team, the best teams’ 7th runner may reach the finish line by breakfast time. Some teams may need twice this time – Jukola Relay is traditionally designed to accommodate the professionals as well as the occasional orienteering runners.
Magical time of the year
Needless to say, you do not need to compete in an event to run, paddle, row or swim under the midnight sun – the magical summer nature of Finland is there for you to explore in endless ways.