Records on the Trot
The "Flying Finn" Paavo Nurmi set one world record after another at the Eläintarha sports field in Helsinki. The cinder track that he ran on was about as sophisticated as a potato field in comparison with the best today. If he had had the benefit of tracks like those, developed to the highest level of perfection that science and research can achieve, the records that he set six decades ago might well still stand.
One of the fastest trotting tracks in the world is in Mikkeli Each year it has attracted some of the world's best trotters to test the limits of their abilities in the St. Michel race in July. On two occasions - 1993 and 1995 - new 1,000-metre records have been set. No other track in Europe can boast of a similar achievement.
Managing Director Jaakko Laitinen of the company that runs the course explains that every detail was carefully thought out. "The track is circular (with a radius of 105 metres), which enables the horses to go into the curves fast. It is also cambered and the slope is ideal, 12.5%, in the sharpest curves. That matters a lot at the highest speeds.. Thanks to the rather coarse structure of the surface material, stone ash, it gives a good grip and hooves do not slip on it. The track is surrounded by mature forest, so the high winds that often blow at the peak of the season never bother us. The only thing we haven't been able to do anything about yet is the rain."