Finland’s centenary brings sports fans together
Finland has over the years become renowned as a sports-mad country. Sports unite participants and spectators alike. In addition to the established sports, Finns have also created many new ones, of varying degrees of seriousness. Among the annual sporting activities are Finnish baseball, wife-carrying, snowdrift swimming, swamp football, wellington-throwing, and sauna endurance.
Far from creating a more restrained atmosphere when it comes to sports, the centenary of Finland’s independence offers a wealth of memorable competitive events throughout the country.
For ballgame fans
Football fans should mark Saturday 10 June in their calendar, because the whole day is devoted to football in both Finland and Estonia. On that date the aim of the Finland – Estonia 100+ encounters challenge is to play over a hundred games throughout Estonia and Southern Finland during the day. It’s also possible to enjoy football, futsal and beach football in town squares in Helsinki and Tallinn. Over one hundred teams have registered for this extremely popular event, from both countries.
July is peak season for all fans of Finnish baseball. More than 2,000 under-fourteens and their managers will gather at the super baseball camp in Turku between 16–21 July to play more than 600 baseball games in the week. Around the same time, from 20-24 July, the ninth Finnish baseball World Cup will be held, also in Turku. Because Finland has won all of the World Cups so far, it is the firm favourite this time round too.
Sports of the past make a comeback
On 10 June Asikkala will be taking a trip back in time to the 1920s, for the old time athletics championships at Vesivehma sports field. There will be events for the whole family, following the style, rules and historical setting of the era. Events include running on crushed coals, throwing with both hands, and high jumps onto a sawdust heap. There are series of events for all ages from nine to ninety-nine.
The spirit of bygone years can also be enjoyed in Juankoski, where the Finnish horse pulling championship will be held on Saturday 17 June. In this traditional test of strength, the challenge is to see which Finnish workhorse can pull a weighted sledge the furthest along a sand track. The track is divided into ten-metre sections. The winner is the horse that can pull the heaviest load the furthest. The animals will be weighed, and a prize will also be awarded to the horse that pulls the best in proportion to its weight.
More Finnish nostalgia is on offer at the log floating Finnish championships, which will be held in the beautiful surroundings of Kattilakoski in Pello from 22-23 July. The championship will measure log-floating skills in a number of events, such as shooting of the rapids, punting, team rowing, and the log-floating marathon. The latter competition includes rowing, boat-pulling, running booms, log balancing (sestominen), and cross-country running. This authentic Finnish summertime event naturally includes accordion music and communal singing as well.
On land and in the water
Practitioners of combined events will meet in Luukki in Espoo on 13 August for the lake-to-lake swim run. Participants will follow a clearly marked course alternating between running and swimming from lake to lake. The event starts and finishes in the beautiful park of Luukki Mansion. The course length is about 13 kilometres, covering 7 lakes with a total swim distance of 2.8 kilometres. The course is divided into 11 swimming sections, with the longest swimming distance being around 500 metres. This is a pair event, with either same-sex or mixed pairs.
In June, you can get in step with the on the pace of experience with the Eläkeläisukkojen Kävelypässit (“pensioner guys’ walking sticks”) group. The group will trek from Kajaani to Vuokatti from 12–13 June. The hiking trip will introduce hikers to the spiritual heritage of Elias Lönnrot and Eino Leino.
If the Kajaani-Vuokatti hike sounds too much like hard work, another option is to grab your walking poles and head to Paloheinä in Helsinki, where the celebratory twentieth Nordic Walk Finland event will be held on 6 August. Depending on your fitness level, there are three distances to choose from: three, five or ten kilometres.
For those looking to compete over even shorter distances, it’s well worth heading to Forssa, where the Run around the church 2017 will be held on 17 September. The event includes a children’s 100-metre race around the church, and a 400-metre competition for older competitors.