10 days left until Tartu MTB Marathon - is the race really happening?


Photo by: Elen Kontkar

There are exactly 10 days left until the 23. Tartu MTB Marathon. Most of the major sports events have been cancelled or replaced by virtual ones due to the spread of the coronavirus. Understandably, sports fans have a question whether it’s possible to organize the biggest MTB marathon festival this year. The race director of the Tartu MTB Marathon, Indrek Kelk, confirms that the event is taking place and explains what has changed compared to the last year.

Is the Tartu MTB Marathon really taking place this year?

Yes, the 23rd Tartu MTB Marathon is really happening! However, we have made several changes to make all attendees feel good and safe on that day.

What do you mean by safety when organizing such a big MTB marathon?

In organizational terms, hygiene is certainly most important, both in terms of washing hands, using hand sanitizer and reorganizing food distribution. Personal protective equipment worn by organizers and participants if it’s wanted/necessary is also very important. Because the event takes place in open air, it’s not obligatory to wear a mask. We also provide our participants with information and advice on how to behave while attending the event. Above all, we hope and believe that people will follow these steps we recommend. The most important thing that each participant can do, is protecting themselves and others – only come to the marathon when feeling completely healthy! If you feel bad or sick, stay home!

You mentioned that there are some changes in food distribution?

Food is still provided at the service station and after the finish. The only thing that has changed is how the food is served. At the service station on the track food is in the cups – people can choose between salty and sweet. Also after the finish line people can get soup, bread, a drink and something sweet. Food is distributed without contact.

Are the participant buses still riding?

Yes, they are. But we kindly ask that if there is any possibility to come with your family/company by personal transport, then do it. As the bus is closed area, you must wear a mask! If you don’t have a personal mask, then you can get it from bus driver or organizer.

How are the starting areas organized?

In the start area, we still recommend keeping a reasonable distance from others and avoid the use of indoor spaces if possible. We strongly recommend using hand sanitizer or washing hands before and after using the toilet. If rider feels that there is a need for a mask, then he/she can wear it before the start. When the mask is no longer used, it’s very important to throw it in the trash can, not to leave it on the ground!

When the competition is over – what happens in finish area?

As it has been proven that the virus spreads best indoors, we plan to carry on the event so that people don’t have to go indoors. At the finish area in Elva, all activities will take place outdoors. There is no printout of diplomas at the finish this year, those who want can print their own diploma from the website www.tartumaraton.ee. All the washing facilities are only outdoors and there is no sauna, which is probably more inconvenient for people, but very important to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The only closed space in the finish area is the dressing tent, and it’s therefore mandatory to wear a mask there. If you don’t have your own mask, then you can get it from organizer.

However, is there any risk that the event will be cancelled in case the overall situation gets worse?
In the current situation, and within the time that is left, there is very little chance that things will go so bad. Of course, we will do our best to make the event happen. If we all follow the commonly agreed rules, we can show that sports events can be organized in today’s difficult circumstances.