Helsinki – We think it’s all over…

The 24hr race in Helsinki will now be officially over and all that remains is to await the final results.

This may take a short while to calculate, and for the benefit of those who haven’t seen an ultra-race in action I’ll explain why.

Unlike most races which are based on distance and so end when a runner crosses the finishing line, 24hr races are based upon time and so all runners stop when 24hrs is reached.

While the ChampionChip computer monitoring system records the number of whole laps run (when a runner crosses the start/finish line), this system isn’t like a GPS and so can’t calculate any partial lap distances. To record this, each runner stays on the spot when the finish is announced and waits to have their position marked. This is then calculated and added to their complete lap count.

As the rules for this particular race state :


We will give all runners numbered “wooden blocks” markers roughly 15 minutes before the end
of the race. A warning gunshot / announcement will be shot one minute before the end at
[local time] and the final gunshot / announcement at 12:00 (noon) [again, local Finnish time] when all runners are required to stop immediately and leave their “wooden block” marker on the track.

As you can probably imagine, with almost 120 starters, it is going to take quite a while to record all the runner’s distances, add these to complete lap totals and then get this information up-loaded to the race website.

At least the race is taking place indoors in a heated arena. One of the genuine but often overlooked problems faced by runners at the end of an ultra is a rapid drop in body temperature. When running, the competitors body temperatures become (as you might imagine) very high, but this can drop very very rapidly as soon as they stop. It is vital at this point that a runner keeps warm, with extra clothing or a “space blanket” etc, otherwise they can really suffer. In outdoor races especially, this can be actually dangerous e.g. if a runner happens to be half-way round the course when the race ends and thus has no access to clothing/blankets etc (I actually once ended up having to run half a course  to go and fetch an ambulance for one runner who collapsed after a race) – but at least inside the Esport Arena the runners shouldn’t have to face this kind of problem (and I bet everyone is especially glad not to be outside in Helsinki’s temperatures at present!).

More news as it arrives – not long now until the final results!