In just a few weeks, the eyes of Estonian fans will turn to what is currently a snowless resort area for the year's most important winter sports event. The organizers of the Tartu Marathon aren't giving up hope, though.
Indrek Kelk, the director of the 63-kilometer marathon from Tartu to Otepää to be held on February 16, told Valgamaalane, a newspaper in the Postimees group: "If the snow conditions were a little better, we'd be more optimistic, but we can't pull the plug. We're doing all we can for the Tartu Marathon to shine in its usual glory."
Kelk admitted, however, that current conditions are "hopeless." Less than 3 cm is on the ground, and that is subliming in the bright, bitter winter weather. The marathon, held classical-style, will require 20-25 centimeters of snowfall.
The moment of truth, said Kelk, will come on February 10. On that day a decision will be made to go ahead or cancel.
There's also an added concern for Kelk - people haven't been able to lay down a training base of mileage. The city of Tartu did finally open a 850-meter "yellow snow" track - made from water drawn from the river. But Kelk is worried that the ill-prepared will come out en masse for an event that takes even extremely fit skiers many hours to complete
A total of 5,430 have registered for the 61 km race. For now, there's no sign of a break in the frigid weather, and there is a possibility of light snow early next week.