Saturday, 25 February 2017
A Trip to Tartu and a Race
We also went shopping around the enticing stalls at the Expo, and at least five of us were captivated by some pretty Salomon trail shoes, which we snapped up for about half their price in the UK.
The Tartu Ski Marathon is normally a 63 km cross country ski race that travels through the Estonian countryside in the shape of a walking stick, starting in the stadium a few metres away from our front door, outside which Sue is pictured.
Last year the race was cancelled due to a paucity of snow. This year there is even less snow, but in a bid to avoid bankruptcy the organisers have elected to change the route to five and a half laps of the artificially produced course here at Otepää.
The race now takes place in six 'waves' of 500 to 600 people in each. There's also an option to do two and a half laps (16 km) rather than the full 34 km race. We are all entered for the 34 km races that start at 11 am (for fast skiers) or 2 pm (for slow skiers like me and Sue). The 'elite' start at 9 am and should all finish by 11, whereas people like me can hope for around 4 hours, depending on the conditions.
This afternoon three of our number, Sam, Shane and Andy, elected to add one of today's 16 km races to their itinerary. Sue and I may have joined them but we only have insurance cover for ski racing for one day - tomorrow!
The dynamic trio are pictured before the race, and I managed to snap the start, and Andy and Shane during the race. I have pictures of all three finishing, but those were taken with my proper camera so they will need to be downloaded at home before they appear here.
A fair number of us stayed out on the cold but sunny afternoon to cheer them on. Given the slow conditions they all did brilliantly. Andy took roughly 1.09, Shane 1.22 and Sam 1.36. Well done, all of you. We hope you haven't worn yourselves out for the longer distance tomorrow.
Lumi, the best restaurant in Otepää, beckons again tonight. We were there yesterday and will be again tomorrow, by which time we should have worked our way through the menu. Luckily, the food is great. Estonia in general is very much a European country with the high standards you'd expect from any honourable member of the EU. They don't disappoint, and many people have taken the trouble to learn English, which is most considerate.