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The participants in the World Sauna Challenge are celebrating their Guinness World Record at Pub O’Malleys in Helsinki on November 14, 2019. Picture: Yolanda Pascual Ruiz de la Hermosa for Finland Today

International students of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences have broken the Guinness World Record for “Most Nationalities in a Sauna.”

A total of 101 nationalities fitted themselves in the world’s largest wood-heated sauna at the Finnish Naval Academy in Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki.

The rules were clear: they had to sit for at least five minutes in 60 degrees Celsius. This, unusually low temperature, was to make everyone feel comfortable, even for those who rarely went to a sauna before.

Typically, the sauna is not the most comfortable place to wear clothes (Finns rarely do), but the participants were provided with a T-shirt and they had to wear shorts or leggings. A towel was a requisite.

The previous record for most nationalities was broken in Beijing, in 2013, with 99 countries represented.

The participants are excited to join the challenge. We interviewed them at the Market Square in Helsinki before they jumped on the ferry to Suomenlinna Island. Video: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Cheng Jui Lin, 22, a Taiwanese student with his Malaysian friends, found the event interesting, as they don’t have a sauna culture in their countries. They argue that Finns worship sauna because here “it’s difficult to sweat.” According to Jui Lin, the sauna “feels great.”

101 nationalities are posing for a group photo at Suomenlinna. Picture: Yolanda Pascual Ruiz de la Hermosa for Finland Today

Yauheni Kaliuka, 40, with roots in Belarus, joined the event because a friend told him they have no representatives from his country. He said that in Belarus the sauna is popular in particular in villages. But in Finland, there is a sauna almost in every home.

Victor Anasa, 30, originally from the Republic of Congo, did not know anything about the sauna before he got here. After two years in Finland, he has enjoyed the heat a few times, and he said that he enjoys it. But, he still can’t fully understand Finns’ passion for the sauna. The most shocking thing for him was the nudity. “Why? That’s crazy! Ha, ha!”

There was also a veteran, Juho Uski, 53. He participated in the previous world record attempt ten years ago. He said: “I had to come. This record belongs to Finland!”

Talking about nudity, he knows foreigners find it weird. But he said it is all about getting clean.

After the sauna and a ferry ride back to a pub downtown Helsinki where food was served and the results were to be announced on Thursday evening, there seemed to be another world record attempt taking place: “Most Nationalities Holding Pee.”

And when the results were announced the place exploded.

In cheers!

Watch a clip of the announcement below. (Video: Yolanda Pascual Ruiz de la Hermosa for Finland Today)