Written by Ossi Peltoniemi (translated from Finnish) 

Images by Jussi Sirviö (@sirjussi)


Looking back on 2021 from a running standpoint, this past year included both great success and frustrating disappointment. The last race of the season in Valencia was unfortunate. Preparations had gone well, so my expectations for the race were high. I set my goal for 2:30 which proved to be too fast of a mark in retrospect. Based on my workouts, I was in my best shape ever. I had completed my hardest workouts in control which improved my self-confidence. I believed I was in personal best condition, but I was too focused on running sub-2:30 and not focused enough on having a strong race.


The effort went almost as planned in the race as I was feeling pretty good for the first 15km, but that’s the problem. Feeling pretty good is not enough in a marathon. You should feel super comfortable in the early stages of the race. I was too stuck on my plans, and I wasn’t listening to my body. I soon became tired from starting too fast. I ran at roughly 2:30 pace until 24km, but then I began to fade in the strong headwinds. If my start were lighter, I would have earned a better result, but I was pushing for a big improvement.


Although my fall marathons in Berlin and Valencia were lowlights, there were also highlights. In the spring, I had success in some Finnish road races. I ran a nine second personal best in the half marathon during the Finnish National Championships (1:11:29). After this race, I originally planned to run a spring marathon in Germany; however, Covid had other plans. Instead, I ran the 50km national record (3:09:41) in my hometown of Rovaniemi. The run was a positive substitute for a marathon and provided good memories. A funny detail about that race is that my marathon split was 2:39:45 which ended up being faster than my two fall marathon results.

After a bad race, I wasn’t as disappointed as I would have imagined. The reason for this is clear. I tried for a record improvement, but I wasn’t in that kind of shape. Not yet. The race was an important reminder to me that in a marathon you should be more sensitive and listen to your body. You cannot get stuck on overly specific target times. Hopefully, I learned this very important lesson for next time.

In June, I attended the Karhu x YMR Sun Run training camp which was the highlight of the summer. After many months of dealing with Covid, it was a pleasure to meet runners and guests from all over the world. Being able to host them in my hometown and share the great training routes was an amazing privilege. Many of the guests are people I’ve kept in touch with during the following months. A favorite part of the week was a workout with top marathoner, Mustafa Mohammed (Swedish national record-holder). He’s truly humble and full of great wisdom for long distance running.

Other highlights during the summer included a new 10km best in Paavo Nurmi’s hometown of Turku. Before the race, I knew my fitness was strong, but bettering my previous record by almost fifteen seconds came as a surprise. Almost everything went smoothly in that race. The weather was perfect, there was a big pack, and the pacer pulled at a steady pace. The only downside was that I missed breaking thirty-two minutes by just three seconds. If I had gone under thirty-two minutes, it would have secured a place in the Finnish Championships. I’ve never had such mixed emotions at a finish line before. I had run a big personal best but just missed out at the same time.


During the end of the summer I began training for the fall marathons. Although I didn’t achieve my intended goals in these races, all things considered, the fall season was excellent.

The schedule for 2022 is already starting to come together. The race season will likely start in the middle of winter with a marathon, but not just any marathon. My hometown’s Jätkänkynttilä Ski Marathon is held in March. I’m not the best skier, but many of my friends ski together in a longer cross-country race once a year. Even though I won’t be in my comfort zone, it’s a great tradition. My pace is quite slow compared to the top skiers (I would likely run the route faster than I would on skis), but all of that is irrelevant as the most important thing in this event is to be with friends without any specific goals. This provides quite a good counterbalance to my result-oriented thinking on the running side!


The main race for spring is the legendary Boston Marathon which I have been dreaming of running for a long time. It’s awesome to finally get the chance to run the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world. My plans after Boston are to restore speed and step back on the track. I’m enthusiastic from my strong track races last summer, and I plan to run a few 5,000m or 10,000m like last year. Plans for the fall are still up in the air, but I believe there will be at least one half marathon and another marathon. I’m not certain where I’ll travel to race, but hopefully this time it will be with smart tactics!


Ossi Peltoniemi / @ossipeltoniemi. 

A history teacher and long-distance runner from Rovaniemi, Lapland (Finland).