While nearly 3,000 people have registered for this year's Tartu ski marathon's main events, with one month to go and no snow at all on the ground, organizers are concerned, but say it is still too early to fret too much.
This year's marathon would be the 47th annual Tartu ski marathon, inaugurated in January 1960 (cancellations – most recently in 2014 – mostly account for why it is not the 60th event).
The skiing "sweet spot" period in Estonia has already been and gone, with little snow even falling in much of the country, and zero snow cover anywhere at the time of writing.
However, previous winters have demonstrated that these situations can be suddenly and dramatically reversed.
"It will be some time before the real decisions are made," said organize Indrek Kelk, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.
"Final decisions on which tracks to use and how the marathon will eventually take place are likely to be made within the first days of the marathon week. If conditions are fine and stable, hopefully we will soon be able to start active snow production with Tehvand [stadium, in nearby Otepää] to ensure at least the third option (see below-ed.), "
There are currently three options for running the marathon:
a) There is enough natural snow on the ground, and the marathon runs on the classic 63-kilometer course, which runs from Tartu to Kääriku, near Otepää;
b) Natural snow is used on a shortened version of the original course;
c) The marathon is held on artificial snow around Tehvand stadium in Otepää, around 40 kilometers south of Tartu.
Open track races as well as the Tartu Teatemaraton are planned for February 9, one week before the main marathon is due to start, with organizers aiming to communicate the state of play for those events by the beginning of February.
Supporting events at the main Tartu ski marathon include events for children.
Last year's ski marathon went ahead, and was confirmed just a few days before the event. In December 2017, a stage of the Nordic combined world cup to be held at Tehvand was canceled.
Editor: Andrew Whyte