When you are in Helsinki and looking for the best places to run, head off to the track called "Eltsu" for a workout at a memorable and historical destination. Eläintarhan Urheilukenttä (Eläintarha Sports Park), also known as “Eltsu,” is situated in the heart of Finland’s capital and just a short walking distance from the Central Railway Station. It was the most prominent multi-sport stadium until 1938 when the Helsinki Olympic Stadium replaced it.
Even after the Olympic Stadium’s opening, Eltsu never stopped providing an athletic atmosphere and proper warm-up facility for track and field competitors visiting Helsinki. International events such as the 1952 Summer Olympics, World Championships in 1983 and 2005, and European Athletics Championships in 1971, 1994, and 2012 all took advantage of the oval.
Thanks to the City of Helsinki, the facility has been maintained and renovated on a regular basis to support athletic spirits and keep with international standards. With more than 100 years of history since its opening in 1910, Eltsu is still the most frequently used track and field stadium for Helsinki runners.
Eltsu boasts countless stories from runners of all levels over the years. In fact, it was Finnish hero and Karhu athlete, Paavo Nurmi’s favorite daily training location. In the spring of 1924 his trip to the Summer Olympics was in jeopardy due to a knee injury, but he recovered and resumed training twice a day. On June 19th, Nurmi tested out the Olympic schedule at Eltsu by running the 1500m and 5000m inside an hour, setting new world records for both distances.
Aki Nummela, a Helsinki based running coach, former member of Finland's national team, and founder of Runner’s High Oy’s, often visits Eltsu for both his own training and when coaching his athletes. Despite its proximity to busy downtown Helsinki, Eltsu is peaceful, quiet and provides runners motivation for training at their own pace. Like Nurmi, Nummela also says Eltsu is his favorite training track. Perhaps it's being able to draw on the inspiration of the 9 time Olympic gold medalist that brings the sisu spirit to interval workouts.
The beauty with Eltsu is that it’s open for everyone to access. The beautiful forest surrounding the stadium and urban services make getting to the track easy. We highly recommend for you to experience this historical running location and become part of the stories told.
KARHU, meaning “bear” in Finnish, is a leading running brand in Europe and has provided technical running and outdoor gear for 100 years. With an authentic heritage in running and a deep connection to the outdoors, KARHU follows the Finnish principles of design simplicity and running purity. KARHU shoes have been worn on the feet of the greatest Finnish runners, including Boston Marathon champion
Olavi Suomalainen and Olympic champ Paavo Nurmi. KARHU shoes and apparel are sold globally at running and lifestyle specialty retailers.
1. Paavo Nurmi Article on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paavo_Nurmi
1. Paavo Nurmi photo provided by Sports Museum of Finland