RACINGTHEPLANET: LAPLAND 2022 - LOCATION, WEATHER & CULTURE
RacingThePlanet: Lapland 2022 is the 13th edition of the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon. It will take place in Lapland, Finland - where the number of reindeer is equal to the number of people! The wilderness is all around: those with sharp eyes get to see reindeers, wood grouse, Siberian jay and many other arctic species as well as enjoy nature's treats from colourful berries to mushrooms. This is a unique opportunity to experience Lapland colours when the arctic nature changes from summer to autumn.
Most people have heard of Lapland, but not many people actually know where it is! Lapland is not a country, it’s a region of northern Europe which is in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. RacingThePlanet: Lapland will take place in the Finnish part of Lapland. Lapland makes up almost one third of the whole country Finland.
The gateway to Finnish Lapland is Rovaniemi (which is also home to Santa Claus in the winter). Rovaniemi is easily accessed by air and rail from Helsinki, the capital of Finland which has direct flights from Asia, the United States and most countries in Europe.
The Lapland region has a subarctic to continental climate characterized by mild summers and cold, snowy winters. Most of the Lapland region lies above the Arctic Circle, so there is a big difference in daylight hours and temperature between winter and summer.
Lapland may be within the Arctic Circle but in summer, when RacingThePlanet: Lapland takes place, the temperatures offering ideal conditions for running and hiking.
• 15°C / 60°F average daytime temperature (maximum 20°C / 70°F)
• 10°C / 50°F average night-time temperature
Although there is a chance of rain …
The 17 hours of daylight each day in summer, when the sunrise is at 5am and sunset at 10pm, give Lapland the name of “land of the midnight sun”. During the peak of summer, the sun does not go below the horizon during summer.
Despite being a first world country, Lapland has unique culture that it has managed to preserve despite development. Across northern parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland over to the Kola Peninsula in Russia, thousands of indigenous Sámi people roam the area of Sapmi or Lapland as we know it. They are the largest ethnic group in Lapland and speak a Finno-Ugric language. Traditionally, their way of life has been to roam through the countryside whilst hunting, fishing and herding reindeer. Their culture is rich with religion, folklore and mythology entrancing you into many stories of tradition and heritage. Central to their way of life are the colourful clothing or ‘gakti’. Different regions have slight variations and it is said that to protest against something, they turn their costumes inside out.
The Samai Yoik - This is an interesting type of song or chant within the Sámi culture. Part of their belief is concerned with souls (they believe natural objects such as plants and rocks have souls) and the Yoik stems from this. Words and music are put together to capture the essence of a single being. It can be very personal, composed at the time of a birth and is rather like a chant. There is also a Sámi national day on 6th February – which is the day of the first Sámi congress dating back to 1917. If you have young children, you’re probably more familiar with a Yoik than you think – the Yoik ‘Eatnemen Vuelie’ (The Earth’s Yoik) by Frode Fjellheim was used as the opening to the Disney film Frozen.
Lapland's population is currently around 180,000 - with one third of the population living in the regional capital of Rovaniemi.
For hundreds of years, Lapland has shared folklore of early Santa-like figures. Inspired initially by the Norse god Odin, a figure known as the Yule Goat (which is what Santa is still called in Finland to this day) was said to deliver gifts on Midwinter’s night. Small creatures known as tonttu would also later became Santa’s elves. In the 16th century, these myths were combined with the story of St. Nicholas to become the Santa figure we recognise today.