By Ms. Noora Honkala – She is the World’s No.1 6-hour ultra-runner record holder and youngest woman in history to have completed the Spartahlon. FinnishNews follows a few world class Finnish athletes who have achieved incredible success in the global sporting arena. They are invited to write their own stories on a regular basis for readers – Photo: Sami Vaskola.
I first began long distance running at 10 years old. I have to admit it came quite naturally to me. I have been told by coaches and doctors that I have a natural predisposition for endurance sport but when we are so young, commitment stems in the main from enjoyment although a love of competition is by no means the reserve of adults. Certainly without commitment or desire, a natural disposition will take you only so far…
When I first read about the Spartathlon, I knew I would compete in this race. The Spartahlon is the most extreme endurance race on the planet and the pinnacle of our sport, 250 km in one hit over the rugged terrain that separates Athens and Sparta. At 25 years, I have now completed the Spartathlon 3 times and each time it is an honour, evoking as it does the greats of antiquity without whom western civilisation as we know it, would simply not exist.
Ultra-running demands a strong spiritual and physical endurance. It requires you to continually push beyond your limit in both training and in races. There is no place to hide in ultra-running, no team mates to rely on, no excuses, no weakness. No words of encouragement during the race can help. Ultra-running requires that you perform for extended periods of time, eliminating from your mind any pain or distress that at times you might be tempted to entertain. It requires absolute control over nutrient intake and pacing and total control of mind over matter.
In our sport, success requires everything to be in balance. Nothing is left to chance or the last minute. Long term planning and many thousands of kilometres have brought me closer to my ultimate goals. In passing every milestone along this journey, I have been encouraged to take on ever greater challenges, to chase dreams that in the past, I would have never believed possible.
The human body and mind are capable of so much… but I’ve always believed that in order to achieve and prevail, everything has to be in balance.
I first visited Aquapetra (a family run hotel and spa in Telsa Terme) in December 2017, following my 54 km Amalfi Coast to Coast Ultrarun. I needed a place to recover and rejuvenate before getting back into maximum intensity training. Being a professional athlete, the tools for recovery play a huge role in my life, and like a warm beautiful blanket, surrounded by nature, Aquapetra provided a perfect oasis for my recovery. Earthly atmosphere, combined with organic food, massage and their top-of-the-line spa, was like heaven on earth for me.
Ever since that first visit, Aquapetra has taken my heart. I am proud have been appointed their Global Sporting and Wellness Ambassador and look forward to launching specialist sports nutrition and recovery programmes together with the team, and to help them build amidst the forests of their luxury resort, a world class centre of excellence for amateur and professional athletes alike.
In the next two years, I have set myself the goal of challenging for multiple ultra running honours. Aquapetra will be a big part of this effort, a place where I can unwind, recover and train in tranquility, and supported on all fronts by my colleagues…