The statue pictured represents Paavo Nurmi, Finland’s running saint, if you want to consider him that way. Here’s a brief synopsis from Wikipedia that is as helpful as anything else:
Paavo Johannes Nurmi; 13 June 1897 – 2 October 1973) was a Finnish middle- and long-distance runner. He was nicknamed the “Flying Finn” as he dominated distance running in the early 20th century. Nurmi set 22 official world records at distances between 1500 metres and 20 kilometres, and won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in his twelve events in the Olympic Games. At his peak, Nurmi was undefeated at distances from 800 m upwards for 121 races. Throughout his 14-year career, he remained unbeaten in cross-country events and the 10,000 m.
(Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paavo_Nurmi)
So, needless to say, running has some history in Finland. Which surprised me when we came here. When I think of running, I don’t think of Nordic countries, I think of warm countries. But things change over time, and so do athletes.
At any rate, running in Finland is actually pretty nice. Because it is usually cooler out through much of the year, you don’t worry too much about over heating. The road system is perfectly designed for runners, walkers and cyclists. There are trails everywhere – literally. In fact the Finns decided that these forms of transportation are so important they created a system of trails just for walkers, runners and cyclists. I would guess there is just as many of these trails as there are roads for vehicles. They made running easy and safe. A lot of the trails mirror the road ways, but are usually off of the road. No need to cross many streets either – there are plenty of bridges over roads and tunnels under roads to eliminate the danger of crossing the street.
Running in Finland also has another advantage – the scenery is beautiful – lots of trees and open sky. There’s usually a good deal of lighting to, in case you feel like running in the winter when it is dark.
Overall, running in Finland is a great.