Tartu Marathon will take place – read about different course versions


This winter raises the same questions as every year – whether and how much snow will come and how long it will stay. In order for Tartu Marathon to take place, the organizers of the event have written down different versions of the ski marathon.

48th Tartu Marathon. Author: Adam Illingworth.

According to Indrek Kelk, the main organizer of Tartu Marathon, it is nice to realize that winter has arrived early, but it is still almost impossible to predict what the winter will be like as a whole. However, the organizers are sure that the marathon will be held one way or another. "Since winters in Estonia are unpredictable, we always have to think about options from A to D," explains Kelk.


Different versions of Tartu Marathon


Option A – there is enough snow and the ski marathon can be held on the original Otepää-Elva route.

Option B – there is less snow and the distances are shorter. Most likely on the Otepää- Palu route.

Option C – artificial snow course at Otepää. It would guarantee the reliability of events and would be one of the best practice course until spring for enthusiasts. However, it is difficult to implement due to significant costs.

Option D – there is no snow and the hike takes place as in 2020, on the Otepää-Kääriku route. The darkest scenario.


All of these plans have been used in the past in one way or another, but the biggest concern for the organizers is the production of artificial snow. The last time the marathon took place on artificial snow was in 2017, when there was 6 km long circuit at Tehvandi. According to Kelk, the Tehvandi ski stadium is one of the places where artificial snow will be produced, but these tracks are meant for professional skiers and a ski marathon aimed for amateurs cannot be organized on a circuit intended for professional athletes to compete.


The production of artificial snow is beyond capacity


Therefore, according to Kelk, the key is the production of artificial snow on the first 1.5 km of the Tartu Marathon course, where there is relatively flat ground and enjoyable course. "Unfortunately, the production of artificial snow for this track is not among the priorities of the Tehvandi center and Tartu Marathon alone does not have the money or technical capacity to make such public facilities," he explains.


Kelk says that the best solution for ensuring the sustainability of recreational skiing in Estonia would be to find funding for the construction of one of the most important tracks in cooperation between three parties: the local government, the state and Tartu Marathon.


"In this case, we could offer skiers an enjoyable 6-7 km long ski course covered with artificial snow from December to April, and this would also provide an additional guarantee for the Tartu Marathon to take place on artificial snow in a situation where natural snow conditions are not good enough. In addition, it would be an important tourist magnet for the Otepää region as a winter (indoor)tourist attraction," he states.


"Unfortunately, we do not have this kind of cooperation so far, and in some previous years, when we have been able to complete this course, it has only happened thanks to the resources of the Tartu Marathon and Tehvandi Center. And we are not talking about millions here, but 30-40,000 euros even at today's energy prices. But at least today Tartu Marathon no longer has these resources," Kelk states.


According to the main organizer, hike is the last of all the options and will only be held when the hope of skiing in the snow has completely disappeared. "If it is still clear that there is no snow and it will not come, and we have not been able to produce snow ourselves either due to lack of money or warm weather, we will organize the hike in a similar way to year 2020. Then more than 1 000 people participated and the feedback was actually extremely positive," recalls Kelk.


In addition to the mentioned options, there is the possibility to participate in the Tartu Marathon from January 16 to March 16 virtually. If participants wish, they can also take part in the long-distance marathon by cycling, running/walking or on roller skis.


The 49th Tartu Marathon will take place on February 19th, when distances of 63 and 31 km are planned. The day before, kids races take place in the Tähtvere sports park. A week earlier, participants can test themselves at the Open Track and Relay Marathon races.