On Saturday 3 October 2020, six different distances were run in Helsinki. Helsinki City Running Day was the largest mass event organised in Western Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. Grano helped the Finnish Athletics Federation make the event safe for attendees.

Helsinki City Running Day is Finland’s largest running event, at which participants can choose the most suitable running distance from six different alternatives. The event is organised by the Finnish Athletics Federation, with which Grano has been co-operating closely for several years now.

The event has a very long history, and the Garmin Helsinki City Marathon run organised as part of the event is internationally renowned. This year marked the 40th time that this king of running distances was run in Helsinki.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the year 2020 has been very challenging for event organisers, especially in terms of event safety. Consequently, Helsinki City Running Day was one of the few large-scale events organised under these exceptional circumstances. Around 10,000 people signed up for the event, with more than 6,000 people taking off from the starting line. Additionally, the event expo was visited by around 16,000 people. In terms of the number of participants, the event is also currently the most extensive event related to the renovated Helsinki Olympic Stadium, which served as the runners’ starting and finish line.

“This year’s running event was organised under extremely challenging circumstances, as it was the largest mass event organised in all of Western Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of negotiations with authorities, it was concluded that, despite the exceptional conditions, we could meet the prerequisites for organising the event. Grano worked with us in a key role as the event’s safety product partner,” says Race Director of Helsinki City Running Day Harri Hänninen from the Finnish Athletics Federation.

Over the course of the year, Grano has added plenty of safety products to its selection for preventing the virus from spreading, such as safety distance tapes, protective plexiglasses and automatic hand sanitiser dispensers with an info screen, all of which were used as safety products at the Helsinki City Running Day event as well. In addition to these, Grano provided the event with signs, asphalt stickers, A stands, roll-ups, triangle totems and starting gates. Additionally, Grano provided an automatic visitor number monitoring solution for ensuring the runners’ safety in the indoor facilities of the Olympic Stadium before and during the event.

The Helsinki Olympic Stadium served as a base for the audience and the runners as they took off and returned from their runs. It was therefore extremely important that the visit to the Olympic Stadium was safe for all attendees. 

“The runners followed the safety requirements and recommendations incredibly well. I must say that I’ve not seen people wear face masks so diligently anywhere else,” rejoices Tanja Finne from the Finnish Athletics Federation, who was in charge of co-operation with Grano.


Smart sensor solution for monitoring the number of visitors to support safety

As an interesting new service, Grano monitored the number of visitors at the event with sensor technology. This monitoring allowed the event organisers to see in real time how many people were inside the race office of the Stadium and the event expo area. Additionally, traffic lights and hand sanitiser dispensers with a screen at the door told visitors when they could go inside and when they had to wait. The purpose of this was to maintain safe distances and prevent congestions.

“Monitoring the number of visitors with sensors is a service related to Grano’s safety products, and it’s suitable for events of all sizes. The solution is also well-suited for locations such as stores and restaurants. Actually, as a safety service, it’s suitable for all indoor and outdoor facilities in which the number of simultaneous visitors must be monitored for safety reasons and limited if necessary,” says Key Account Manager Pasi Osala from Grano, who was in charge of co-operation with the Finnish Athletics Federation.

“Grano’s sensor solution for monitoring the number of visitors in the race office and the expo area was outstanding. It enabled us to control the number of visitors with absolute certainty, and no congestions or bottlenecks occurred in the indoor facilities,” says Harri Hänninen in praise of the new technology.

The data produced by the sensors was utilised on every passageway of the Olympic Stadium, and the same data was also forwarded to the smartphones of the caretakers of the event in order to make it easier to take appropriate action in any risk situations or if the number of simultaneous visitors grew too great.

In addition to safety, Race Director Harri Hänninen brings up the benefits of the data generated during the event in planning future events:

“The generated visitor data is a big thing for us. We can see with great accuracy how many people came indoors at the event, when they came and left and how long they stayed inside on average. Such information is essential for organising future events, and this is the first time it has been available to us. The generated data is excellently suited for future utilisation.”

In addition to safety-related matters, Grano’s sensor analytics services can be used for purposes such as conducting research for boosting sales at stores in many different ways.

In addition to the sensor solution, Grano provided the event with plenty of visitor safety related guides, stickers and signs with the company’s yellow brand.

“I think that adapting basic visibility to serve the safety of the event raises the visibility to a whole new level. It supports both the safety of the event and responsible operations by both parties involved. It’s really great for both of us that we were able to do something like this together,” Tanja Finne rejoices.


Long-running and working co-operation

“We’ve had a really smooth and long-running co-operation relationship with Grano – the kind of relationship in which our co-operation has developed and changed every year. Together, we’ve made efforts to find co-operation models that support the event and bring added value to both the event and Grano. In other words, instead of just co-operating for the visibility, we do things that take both of us forward together,” comments Finne.

Grano has been co-operating with the Finnish Athletics Federation for several years. During this time, the company has carried out branding operations at running events, TV competitions and Finland-Sweden Athletics International competitions governed by the Finnish Athletics Federation.

“I think Grano’s greatest strengths are the company’s innovativeness, openness and professionalism, as well as its pioneering in certain areas. Grano keeps constantly renewing itself, and they have new things to present to us every year. They are also keeping track of trends in the field and are able to present to us useful new services that we wouldn’t have known or had the time to look into,” says Finne in appreciation of Grano.

“Our own resources are limited, and Grano gave us plenty of tips and support. Grano operated proactively, and it’s great when someone has come up with an idea and says ‘something like this could be good.’ I was really happy with their operations,” concurs Hänninen. 

In addition to the Finnish Athletics Federation, Grano has co-operated with the Federation’s other partners.

“Grano is also beneficial to partners of the Federation, as the company is able to constantly provide ready-made useful ideas for our partners to utilise,” Tanja Finne concludes.


“Grano’s sensor solution for monitoring the number of visitors in the race office and the expo area was outstanding.”
Harri Hänninen | Race Director of Helsinki City Running Day, Finnish Athletics Federation