The Kuopio Swimrun based in the heart of Finnish Lakeland country is a delightful and challenging event, with the Ultra course, recently named the My Swimrun World Championships final in the Ultra distance category. Swimrun.com chats to Race Director, Sampo Hyppölä about the Kuopio Swimrun. Sampo did his first swimrun race with his dad, Tero in 2015 and they qualified for the ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championship in 2017. The father and son duo had a great race and placed inside the top 20 finishers. Sampo is affectionally known as ‘the flying Finn’ and was hooked, inspired to organise his own race. Swimrun was exactly what he had been seeking.
What is the swimrun community like in Finland?
There are several thousand of us in Finland who have tried swimrun. There are also a few local swimrun pioneers in my country, usually organizing both race and training sessions. For example we have run weekly swimrun group sessions in Kuopio area for several years before the race in July.
Any personal recommendations for the best equipment for a swimrun?
I would say a decent pull-buoy is the most important piece of swimrun equipment. Everyone should find the optimal buoyancy for their swimming technique. It’s very common people are using a too small pull buoy which not only lowers the speed but may also lead to shoulder or back injury.
What can participants expect at the Kuopio Swimrun?
Participants can expect trail running in the true sense of the word. The scenery of Finnish Lakeland can be seen along the whole race from the top of the hills. The courses are well marked and there are plenty of volunteers guiding swimrunners on land and in water. Energy intake is the major key in a long swimrun race. That’s why we have a strong mixture of sports drink and several snacks served frequently throughout the race.
What is the atmosphere like?
People in Finland are kind and fair and the same atmosphere can be seen from the faces of the racers! Instead of an urban environment you will get a chance to enjoy the silence of the wilderness and the landscape with pure nature. The most traditional way to finish the race day is to relax in a Finnish Sauna World – Luoto – located right in the middle of Lake Kallavesi.
What do you think is the most challenging part of the course is for athletes?
I think the hardest part of the course will be the technical trails and also the total vertical climb. Actually the most technical trails are on the section of Short 15 km course. I mean you may perform very well in Kuopio even though you take some walking steps time by time.
What’s the highlight of this course?
The sceneries of Finnish Lakeland, absolutely! I would also say it’s a highlight that there are no extremely long running sections in Kuopio which is very nice on a warm summer day.
Just how hard is the ULTRA (ultimate) course?
For the Ultra World Championship race you have to be a competent swimmer and trailrunner. In order to finish the Ultimate 53 km race you have to pass all the cutoffs counted with a total time of 10 hours. Due to challenging terrain your finishing time in Kuopio Ultimate will probably be similar or a little less than that in ÖtillÖ 75 km.
Your top three tips for beginner swimrun participants?
1. Don’t care if it’s called a race. Swimrun events are open for anyone and on the short course races you can spend as much time as you need to enjoy the day!
2. Always, if it’s possible, test your gear for swimrun before the race. A dry test only tells half a story. This is actually important for swimrunners on any level.
3. When you fall in love with swimrun and start to train more, don’t forget to improve your muscle strength. No matter how old you are, the balance between power and endurance training will keep you moving.
Click the link, to find more about the Kuopio Swimrun.