I have participated in a half-marathon in Espoo. It is one of the largest running events in Finland, probably next only to the Helsinki City Run.
The course goes through the forest as well as partly through asphalt. This is why it is called a Rantamaraton, or a beach marathon in English. The course is quite tough, it goes uphill quite often. Compared to a course in Hameenlinna which also goes through forests this Espoo run is a lot more difficult because of this.
Before the race I got new shoes with a big discount. I decided to try them out immediately. Initially they felt very light and comfortable but after half of the distance I found out that the feet were badly damaged because of friction. Then I started feeling the muscle jams. I even thought of retiring from the race but I managed to get to the finish line after walking the last few kms. But my time was still fair – 2 hours and 3 minutes, the same as it was the first time I ran in Seinajoki a couple of years ago.
What I really liked was the atmosphere of the city. It looked as if every resident of Espoo went out to streets to cheer the runners. This gives additional strength to the runners.
Another difference was the number of people. In the forests the paths are quite narrow, two people are barely able to share it. When several thousand people are trying to get through a narrow path the intense competition is inevitable. This is why a marathon and half-marathon are started off at different times and partly go through different routes. However, in the end the routes merge and then the number of people increases even more. On that day a lot of people ran faster than I because I had to walk a lot, but I have overtaken a few tired marathoners as well. This constant competitiveness did not allow me to maintain a normal pace. I was confused as of whether I was going too slowly when I was overtaken or that I was going too fast when I was overtaking. Knowing your pace is very important.
Overall, tough course and nice people but I did not have too much luck this time. And I guess this is the last race this season. This year I have done quite of few of those including a marathon and I am very happy. I did not experience any major leg injury this year. Looking forward to having more successful attempts next year!