I’ve got one more track to post from Finland. I actually found this one last year, but never got around to posting it. Being the first Mondo track in Finland, this facility was renamed Mondo Areena when the new surface was installed in 2000. Several things were upgraded more recently too, in 2012, including a new red and blue track surface. The satellite photo does not do this venue justice. It’s a beautiful track practically located in the middle of the woods. I found out about this track after reading an interview with USATF triple jump champion (and fellow Minnesotan) Amanda Smock last winter on Down The Backstretch. Here’s what Amanda had to say about the track:
“The second vivid memory is from last summer competing in a meet in Lahpinlahti, Finland. There was great competition in the triple jump, so jumping was a lot of fun, but what sticks out to me was the environment. This great track was plopped in the middle of these huge pine trees outside a little town in the middle of nowhere. In Finland, the latitude is further north that Anchorage, Alaska. The air was so crisp and fresh, the stands were packed, and there was a lot of energy. But for moments while I was competing I was having flash backs to my childhood and camping trips to northern Minnesota. I really loved competing there.”
Minnesota has a lot of people of Scandinavian decent. My family has a cabin outside of Ely in northern Minnesota, which has a strong Finnish heritage. I’m sure one of the reasons they ended up here, is because the climate and natural environment are very similar. I love the big pine trees surrounding this track, and it definitely looks like the north woods of Minnesota.
I couldn’t find much information on the facility itself. The 6-lane, red Mondo surface looks great with the blue D-zone in the north end, and blue runways inside the south end, including the interior water barrier and approach. Most field events found on the inside of the track. The long and triple jump runways though, are outside the main straightaway making for some great viewing from the grandstand. Mondo Arena is the site of the annual Savo Games, dating back to 1971. The meet attracts over 200 athletes, including a few elite and world-class competitors. Check out the video below of the 2012 Savo Games. It’s a great video that focuses on the atmosphere of the meet itself, rather than specific events and races. Really cool!
*Photo from wikimedia.org