The entry list for the 47th Tartu Ski Marathon, set to take place on Sunday, now also includes President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kaljulaid is an avid skier, having participated in the 22-km Alutaguse Ski Marathon last weekend and the 42-km Viru Ski Marathon in late-January.
In addition to the president, 3,500 people are registered for the marathon.
Event head organizer to finally get participation medal
The 47th Tartu ski marathon is scheduled for Sunday, February 21, with the event's organizer Indrek Kelk telling ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" on February 12: "The first important change is that there will be no single mass start, but groups of 500 starting every 15 minutes." The first of these groups will start at 9 a.m., the event's traditional start time.
Other changes include the cancellation of the open event, relay race, 16-km race and children's event, due to coronavirus considerations, leaving only the flagship main marathon as the sole race of the weekend.
Kelk told Vikerraadio on February 14 that he has a tradition of going through the marathon route himself a week before the race itself. He said that for the first time since 1999, he is able to earn a so-called honest participation medal, as he went through the route as an official participant of the virtual race, allowing people to ski for 63 km on any Estonian ski trail.
"Although we have an optional trail, there is no need to use it. Snow conditions in Estonia are terrific and weather forecasts do not show nature intervening in the Tartu Marathon," Kelk added.
The winter has brought quite a few frosty marathons across Europe, but the organizers of Tartu Marathon do not fear it getting too cold for Sunday. Forecasts actually show rather good conditions for the weekend, even going above zero on Sunday.
There are some 3,500 people registered for the marathon - 2,500 for the 63-km distance and 1,000 for the half-marathon. The virtual race participants will be added to that.
"If we put this picture together, a 5,000-participant Tartu Ski Marathon is still coming, but as with the current times, everyone takes part in their own corner," Kelk added.
How about a chance of an Estonian winning the marathon as the coronavirus has kept elite competition from travelling to Estonia? The last time this happened was in 2005, when Raul Olle took gold. "There is nothing from top skiers. Estonians will presumably be the best in the elite group this time," Kelk said.
The head organizer said they still expect some hundred people skiing under foreign flags to participate, 30 of them being British soldiers in the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battle group in Estonia.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste