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From Mountains to Ultra Marathons: Harry Järn’s Endurance Journey

From Mountain Hikes to Ultra Marathons Harry Järn How It All Started Story for Run Tri Bike
Harry Järn
Year started: 2019
Next race: May 24-25 / NUTS Karhunkierros 83km / Kuusamo, Finland
Favorite gear:
  • Nnormal Kjerag Trail Running Shoes

Harry Järn’s journey into the world of running and ultra trail running showcases the power of personal challenges. Beyond that the lessons of persistence, and enjoying the unexpected discoveries along the way make it something to keep coming back to. In this story, we’ll explore Harry’s progression from hiking mountains across the globe to becoming an avid runner. He discussed the lessons learned in going from mountain hikes to ultra marathons and the parallels between ultra running and entrepreneurship.

The Mountainous Beginnings

At the age of 59, Harry’s running journey didn’t actually start with running shoes but with the inspiration drawn from an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Three years in the gym followed, until a back injury halted his journey into running. It was during his time abroad, particularly in China, that the spark for hiking ignited, leading to adventures along the Great Wall and 70-kilometer Landau trail hikes. The idea of going from mountain hikes to ultra marathons hadn’t set in yet.

Harry shares, “I didn’t have any passion for running earlier on, but then at some point we moved abroad and lived in n Russia, Pakistan and especially in China. During the six yearsin China, I got into hiking and long distances with friends along the Great Wall and mountains around Hong Kong.”

The Barefoot Revelation

Returning to Finland in 2007, the mountainous terrain disappeared, and so did the hiking passion. Enter 2015, the year Harry encountered a colleague with ‘barefoot’ shoes, sparking a new chapter. The journey of walking barefoot evolved into setting step count challenges within his management team, laying the groundwork for what was to come.

Harry reflects, “I had tried all different kinds of shoes, MBTs and so on, and I had tried to run every now and then, but 5-10 runs, and my back was like a corkscrew and painful and I had to go to physio and get it sorted out. But with being barefoot, I had to change everything.It was a fundamental change and I no longer had pain in my spine.”

From Walks to Runs: A Transformation Unveiled

As the step counts grew, so did the distances covered. What started as walks in barefoot shoes gradually incorporated running on dirt roads. Harry’s revelation came when he realized the impact of barefoot shoes on his running style, providing relief from back issues and opening the door to a newfound love for running.

Harry recounts, “I started to run a little bit in between the walks, especially on the dirt roads, not on the asphalt. But I didn’t even realize that I started to actually introduce running back to my life.”

The Ultra Challenge

With newfound confidence, Harry ventured into longer distances, conquering a 100-kilometer race in Lapland. The challenges didn’t end there – a battle with COVID, a bone bruise, and setbacks tested his resilience. However, Harry’s determination prevailed, and he not only finished the 100-mile race but continued to set personal records.

Harry shares his experience, “Managed to pull it through and after all those difficulties managed to pull it off and finish with a decent time. It was a great accomplishment”


Lessons from the Trails: A Parallel with Entrepreneurship

During our conversation Harry mentioned the parallels between ultra running and entrepreneurship. The endurance required, the need for problem-solving, and the long-term perspective resonate in both domains. Harry, a co-founder and CEO of a startup, sees ultra running as a metaphor for navigating the challenges of building a business.

Harry reflects on the similarities, “You need to be resourceful, think about the options and think about what’s doable and what is not. And where is the limit of being brave turning into being reckless.”

The Joy of Running and Balancing Competitiveness

So, why does Harry continue to embrace this challenging sport? For him, running is a joy, a form of meditation, and a way to appreciate the beauty of nature. The ultra distances offer a unique experience where living in the moment becomes paramount, transcending the mere act of running.

Harry expresses his love for running, “I just realized that I love it. I just came back from my 13-kilometer hill repeats, and it just feels good. It’s like meditation for me to go out there for a run.”

Balancing Competitiveness: A Lesson for Entrepreneurs

Harry’s competitive nature, honed through entrepreneurship, finds a balance in ultra running. The lessons learned on the trails – troubleshooting, planning, and grinding through challenges – seamlessly translate into the business world. The ultra runner’s mindset has become a valuable asset in his entrepreneurial journey.

Harry draws the connection, “Ultra running has actually enhanced my business mindset. When I go there, I don’t quit. I find these are actually complementing each other’s beautifully understanding of different people and scenarios.”

Advice for Aspiring Runners: Age Is Not A Barrier

To those starting their running journey, whether in their 20s or 50s, Harry offers sage advice. For older individuals, he emphasizes that age should never be a barrier. With his own experience starting at 57, he proves that remarkable achievements are within reach if you have the will. For the younger generation, he suggests being gentle, enjoying the process, and reframing the perspective of personal records.

Harry’s advice rings true, “For the older people, there is nothing, absolutely nothing keeping you away from achieving things. If you just want. Same thing for the 20 year old, be gentle to yourself.”

A Journey Revealed

Harry Järn’s journey from mountain hikes to ultra marathons is a story of resilience, discovery, and the joy found in unexpected places. As an entrepreneur and an endurance athlete, Harry’s story is an inspiration to those seeking new challenges, emphasizing that the journey itself holds immeasurable value. Whether you’re stepping onto the trails at 20 or 50, Harry’s story reminds us that age is just a number, and the path to greatness may lead to destinations we never imagined.