It is just over 30 years since Jarmo Raittila knocked on the door of Iggesund Mill and asked if there was any work available. And there was! Today, his day job is an automation engineer – but he is also a full-time Ironman.
As Iggesund Mill’s very own Ironman, Jarmo spends much of his free time training – unsurprisingly when you belong to the small clique who can boast several Ironman triathlons. The training before, the challenge during and the satisfaction after having completed these triple marathons are Jarmo’s great passion in life. Alongside his three children of course. What is also remarkable is the fact that the 51 year-old came to the sport quite late.
“I was about 45 when I decided to get into better physical shape. I’d previously done the Vätternrundan and Finnmarksturen cycling races, mostly for fun and as a personal test. My first Vansbrosimningen swim in 2008 really got me interested in the sport though and by 2011 I was taking part in the Stockholm Triathlon,” says Jarmo.
The following year saw Scandinavia’s first Ironman competition held in Kalmar, Sweden, with Jarmo on the starting line, realising a dream. Jarmo took part in the same event last year and improved his time by almost six minutes. 10.52.19 also put him comfortably in the top 25 per cent of the field.
His sporting interest began as a keen member of Iggesund’s swimming club, but as an adult his exercise took on a more sporadic, occasional nature. Jarmo now spends the majority of his spare time on what is as far from occasional exercise as you can get – around 500 hours of training spread over nine sessions a week, all year round! And the fact that he also almost always trains alone makes it even more impressive.
When I run in the forest, my senses are alert and I live in the moment. No music. I want to hear and feel the nature around me.
This season, the focus is on the national long-distance triathlon competition held in Motala and after the summer it is off to Ironman in Mallorca. Further ahead, as long as he is still doing well and enjoying competing, Jarmo hopes to experience and complete the original: Ironman in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
In his day job, Jarmo is an automation engineer, which involves carrying out preventive and corrective maintenance on production equipment and machinery. Does your training help in your work at all?
“Well, they’re two very different things, but yes, it’s good to be in physical shape if you’re going to do a good job at work.” Jarmo finds his work both demanding and rewarding. “It’s varied and challenging, because we’re always trying to minimise downtime and the time it takes to trace faults. There’s also plenty of scope for using your own initiative and taking responsibility, which is good for my personal development,” says Jarmo, who serves as a part-time fireman in Iggesund alongside his job at the mill.
TEXT: ANDERS GUNNARSSON