Amid the breathtaking landscapes of Norway, runners gathered for the Salomon Golden Trail Nordic Series finale. Their quest: to conquer the newly established 29-kilometer Fýri Trail. Finnish trail runner Juho Ylinen sat down with Aonach to discuss the race.
In September, the Salomon Golden Trail Nordic Series finale took place amid the luxurious backdrop of the Fýri Resort in Hemsedal, Eastern Norway. Participants, from elite athletes to passionate amateurs, embarked on the challenging 29-kilometer Fýri Trail, a brand-new course. Notably, the top three finishers secured invitations to compete in the Golden Trail World Series at Italy’s Il Golfo Dell’Isola held this October.
Finnish trail runner Juho Ylinen narrowly missed the invite by finishing fourth behind three exceptional athletes. Still tinged with a lingering disappointment, he sat down with Aonach a few days after the event to analyze his race strategy, share his fueling tactics, and provide valuable insights for aspiring Fýri Trail participants.
Race Preparation and Course Insights
Over the past year, qualification for the Golden Trail Nordic Series final unfolded through a series of races held in various Nordic countries. These included the Sandnes Ultratrail, Nøsen Hundres, Stranda Fjord Trail Race, and Romsdalseggenløpet in Norway; the Bodom Trail in Finland; the Hammer Trail in Denmark; and the Salomon 27k in Sweden.
When Juho Ylinen first learned about the race calendar last winter, he firmly believed in his ability to secure a spot by finishing among the top five in the Finland leg. His confidence was well-founded. “I won the Bodom Trail, but I wasn’t close to finishing in the top three in the final — I was a full minute behind third. However, it was a great chance to compete against stronger runners at the highest level of trail racing in the Nordics this year.”
In preparation, Juho Ylinen had run a trail marathon two weeks earlier in Nuuksio, Finland, and had participated in the Finnish orienteering championships a week before. “I love racing and would happily run every weekend, so sometimes I don’t go all-in in every race and use them as training. However, this time, I included hill training in my program in the last two weeks, did some recovery runs, and had one good workout the week of the race.”
While happy with his race preparation, Juho Ylinen admits he would have benefitted from reconnaissance runs. “To run a fast race, you should know the course beforehand. You’ll know what’s coming up, such as what the downhill will look like. You need and whether it is technical or easy and how much energy you will need. You must also be very careful going fast between rocks.”
The course encompassed a four-kilometer stretch of relatively level terrain. Following this, participants encountered a challenging uphill section with an elevation gain ranging from 700 to 750 meters, followed by a steep and technically demanding descent. Subsequently, there was a gentler two-kilometer ascent, culminating in a brief but steep downhill stretch leading to the finish line.
Due to traveling, Juho Ylinen only had time to check the course’s first 4k and last 5k and regrets not using the GPS tracking on his watch. “There were times when I wasn’t sure where to go. I could see people ahead, but I didn’t know how they ended up there. The trail was narrow, and the markings were on the ground instead of around eye level. The cold weather also played a role.”
The course’s highest point was just below 1,400 meters, and snow was visible at around 1,600 meters, so the cold temperature affected his fueling strategy. “We had an aid station at 11k, so I carried half a liter of sports drink with 75 grams of carbs and finished that before reaching my crew, who gave me another batch. I planned to drink that over the next 12k because the last 5k was downhill and would take just over 15 minutes.”
He anticipated the race to last up to 2:30 and wanted to average about 80 grams of carbs per hour. This meant taking two gels at 15k and 20k, totaling 200 grams of carbs. “Because of the weather, I didn’t feel like eating. I had the drinks and had one caffeine gel at around 35-40 minutes before finishing. I tried to have more, but the fluid was too cold, and the gels had become slushy, making it difficult to squeeze out the contents.”
Despite the cold weather, unfamiliar course, and missing out on a place in Italy, Juho Ylinen admits it was worth racing. “Hundreds of people stayed at the Fýri Resort, which added to the atmosphere — I’ve never raced with so many people. Thankfully, the next day’s weather was sunny, allowing us to enjoy the incredible views of the mountains and valleys.”
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