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Records as Toys

Nurmi, right, and Joie Ray, left, with U.S. President Calvin Coolidge during Nurmi's 1925 U.S. tour.

It’s no secret that I have a crush on Finland and therefore devour every article I can find about this country. When, in addition, journalists write about Finland and running, I am hooked.

So let me recommend a piece written by Liam Boylan-Pett for the Løpe Magazine about an inimitable runner from the north, Paavo Nurmi, and his U.S. tour in 1924 and 1925. Boylan-Pett reconstructs his journey and all the races he ran. Like this one in the Madison Square Garden in New York.

«Nurmi’s performance was the top story of the Times’ sports section the next day. Ray, to the paper’s credit, was called ‹brilliant› in his effort to stick with Nurmi. But Nurmi, rightfully so, was the main attraction—and he would be for the next few months.

Nurmi was touring the United States. His arrival was covered by the media as if the Pope was visiting, his name filling up the pages and stories about the types of shoes he was training in becoming part of ‹all the news that’s fit to print.› From January 6 to May 26 over more than 50 races, the U.S. sports world belonged to the Flying Finn.»

The following is the diary of a triumph and still today, 100 years after Nurmi’s U.S. tour, I get goose pimples while reading. Already mere numbers are staggering: Nurmi ran 55 races in four months and set a total of 38 world records. But this article is also the story of a duel—between Nurmi and U.S. runner Joie Ray, two men who simply loved running. An astounding piece of history you can read more about at

Filed under: Running


Hello – my name is Florian. I’m a tireless seeker of new trails, regular consumer of third wave coffee and, coincidentally, a content specialist. You can also find me on Instagram and Strava.

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