Last saturday I participated on my first trail running event, Helsinki City Trail. The second time arranged HCT is second biggest trail running event in Finland and it has three different distance options, 5km, 11km and 21km. All these trails run in the middle of Helsinki Central Park. I chose the 11km option as this was my first trail run and I'm not that good runner 😅 This was also good change to test my new gear, Merrell Trail glove 3 running shoes and Suunto Spartan Sport watch (reviews coming later).
You can see the whole route here in the movescount
The 11km and 21km routes start from North-Helsinki, Paloheinä recreation area and run through the Helsinki Central park to south and the finish-line was near Olympic Stadium (last year the finish line was inside the stadium but it is under construction atm). The trail varies between grassy hills, fields, dark forest with narrow paths and rocky bedrock. The trail was good combination of what the Helsinki central park has to offer.
The total number of runners on the starting line was 852 which makes HCT second biggest trail running event in Finland after Bodom Trail. 87 runners on 5km, 412 runners on 11km and 353 runners on 21km.
The trail starts with steep hill what the runners have to climb twice (see the graph for altitude profile). After the hill the trail continues to forrest with fairly easy terrain and after that there is field that runners go across. Then the forest continues and you cross couple bridges over busy highways and when get closer to Helsinki center and finish-line the terrain gets steeper and with more and more bedrock-areas that seemed slippery for people with studded shoes. After last ascent near the finish-line remember to pose for the photographer and enjoy the downhill to the riding field where the finish-line is located.
I was in the slowest group since I had no idea what my finishing time would be. On road I can do 10k for about 55 minutes and on HCT 11km my final time was 1:16:17 and considering this was on trail, I'm really happy with my result.
The atmosphere and the services at the event were top notch. There were even some nice people cheering in the middle of the forest.
Trail running middle of the capital city made me realize how awesome and diverse Helsinki can be!