Fatbiking in Finland – Part II – Rovaniemi 150 Race

Finland’s geographical location means that there is usually good snow conditions in the winter time. If you really want something special, head to Lapland where hunderds of miles of snowmobile tracks can be found. And in the end of winter the snow crust conditions are usually fabulous.

But what if you want to race? The true winter long distance races are well known in the U.S, like the Arrowhead 135, or the mighty Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska. Nothing similar have not been organized in Finland, until now. Yes, this year the first edition of Rovaniemi 150 took place on 18th and 19th of February. It’s a 150 km race by foot, mountain bike or kicksled around Lapland’s main city, Rovaniemi.

The start line of Rovaniemi 150.
The start line of Rovaniemi 150.

Photo by Pekka Koski.

I did a little interview with the race founder Àlex Simòn.

How did you got the idea to organize this kind of race in Rovaniemi, Finland?

In 2011 I participated in the Iditarod Trail Invitational (350 milles). When I finished I spent six days in McGrath. One day looking through a window I realized that the landscape was practically the same that we have here in Lapland. As soon I came back I started to prepare the race.

Rovaniemi 150 is a copy of those winter ultra-marathons organized in Alaska with the only difference that this competition is tailored to Finland’s laws and regulations.

How organizing and preparations went for the race?

First of all, in summer, I designed the track. Then I started to ask for the permissions to pass through the private and public lands, contacting all the land owners (more than 30) was a lot of work. Everybody gave us permission but I had to change some sections. Then in January I started to check and prepare the track.  I did two sections with snowshoes and the rest, helped by the volunteers, with snowmobiles, except of course the B-road sections. One week before the race the track conditions were very good, so I was sure that if conditions were the same in the race, everybody would finish the race.

How the race itself went, and did it meet your expectations?

We had 14 participants coming from England, Scotland, Italy, Belgium and Spain. Even tough we had worked for one month, during the race track conditions were very bad due to that the temperatures were quite high (-5ºC/-10ºC) and it was snowing and windy for a few days before the race and most of the weekend.

Only three finished, all of them by bike, after more than 32 hours non stop.

For the first edition I can say that the race was successful because at the end everybody was happy.

Eventual winner Elias Van Hoeydonck pushing his bike.
Eventual winner Elias Van Hoeydonck pushing his bike.

Photo by Julián Amorrich.

Elias Van Hoeydonck.
Elias Van Hoeydonck.

Photo by Julián Amorrich.

Two bikers pushing.
Two bikers pushing.

Photo by Àlex Simòn.

John Ross on the move.
John Ross on the move.

Photo by Erik Merino.

You are already planning the race for 2013. Are you making any changes?

Yes. You could see the changes next July in our web page: www.rovaniemi150.com and in our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Rovaniemi150. I can say in advance that some race rules will be different and I am working on a short track, two races in one.

Have any long term plans for the race?

Yes, of course! 🙂

From left to right: Martin Campoy (3rd), Àlex Simòn (race director), Elias Van Hoeydonck (1st) and John Ross (2nd):

The winners of Rovaniemi 150, 2012.

Photo by Erik Merino.

Thanks Àlex for the interview.  Looking forward to next years race!

That’s how we race in Finland. In part 3 of Fatbiking in Finland will focus on the bikes. There will be a fine collection of fatbikes and some words of the owners. Stay tuned!


View Part 1 of Fat-Biking in Finland – https://fat-bike.com/2012/03/fatbiking-in-finland-part-i/

About Toni Lund 3 Articles
Adventure cyclist and fatbike aficionado from Finland.

1 Comment

  1. Nice interview! And great that this was organised. Shame I found out too late – it would have been fun to see fatbikes in my home town 🙂

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