First race: 16 January 1960, 55 km, 210 participants (ca 30 racers)
Highest number of participants in main race: 1985 – 13200 entries; 1986 – 9858 finishers
Worldloppet membership: since 1994
Inspiration for founding the race came from Vasaloppet. The race course followed the ordinary road from Tartu to Otepää. During the first years the “hikers” (participants without a race bib) skied the marahon as track groomers for the competitors. In the beginning of the 1980s, the Tartu Maraton became a “fashion event”: to be a man in Estonia you had to ski the Tartu Maraton! A new era started in 1980 – the Olympic Games were held in the Soviet Union and sport was declared by all authorities to be the highest priority for the year. Race was modernized and the new racecourse was found from Otepää to Tartu (later to Elva), all participants got bibs, started at the same time and had recorded results. In 1987 the Tartu Maraton was declared the best sport event of the Soviet Union.
The hardest times of all started for the Tartu Maraton in 1988, when warm winters hit Estonia for 6 consecutive years, combined with a changing political and difficult economic situation for the whole country. In 1991 the Club Tartu Maraton was formed to maintain this unique event and lead it to Worldloppet membership in 1994. Tartu Maraton has set example for the most of today’s mass sport events in Estonia. For years Tartu Maraton has been trendsetter for all popular mass-start events held in Estonia and keep this position also today.
63 km start area in Otepää, at Tehvandi Ski Stadium: coordinates 58°3’9.8″N 26°30’9.6″E
31 km start area in Arula coordinates 58°2’16.54″N 26°21’4.85″E
Finish area close to Elva coordinates 58°12’18.89″N 26°25’17.77″E
Race centre in Tartu, Lõunakeskus shopping centre coordinates 58°21’30.0″N 26°40’40.3″E
Tartu Maraton 63 km long course starts in Otepää, Tehvandi Ski Stadium, which hosted for many years FIS xc World Cup. Tartu Maraton course has classical skier friendly profile: it constantly rolls over the hills, having no major steep uphills / downhills or long straight plain parts, making skiing there real pleasure for every healthy person. The course is wide: during most of the course there are 12 to 8 tracks. The course preparation starts with snow period and maintenance of it last until the end of ski season, making of it not only a race track but also a noted xc skiers training facility. As the main part of the course runs in the not populated Otepää Upland’s forests, far away from roads, the artificial snow production is not used. The finish are of the race is in pine forest of Elva, on the territory of old shooting range.
Course profile of 63 and 31 km
HOW TO GET TO TARTU MARATON
By plane: Tallinn international airport, 185 km from Tartu, is most common. Airport of Tartu has direct connection with Helsinki. It is situated 7 km from city centre between the roads which go to Elva and Otepää. Riga Airport is also usual choice for traveling to Tartu as driving here takes only 3 hours.
By train: Several times a day between Tallinn and Tartu
By bus: Buses form Tallinn airport take you to Tartu in about 2,5 hours, some buses also directly to Otepää. There is bus connection between Tartu-Otepää-Elva. Check out bus schedule on https://www.tpilet.ee/en
By car: Race centre (bib pick up location) situates in Tartu and it is well approachable by car. In the race day there are traffic jams at thestart and finish areas, so please arrive early to avoid stress. Finish area parking is paid.
By ferry: You can also travel by ferry from Helsinki or Stockholm to Tallinn, and take a train or bus from there to Tartu.
Distance between Tartu and start place Otepää is 42 km, between Tartu and finish area Elva is 25 km. The organizers offer a bus transport from Tartu to the start (Otepää) on the morning of the race day, and transport from the finish to Tartu and Otepää.
Tartu is the official birthplace of Estonian ski sport, as here took place the nation first ski competition. Tartu is also the cradle of Estonian Song Festival, Estonian theatre and the state of Estonia. With its population of 100 000, it is the second largest city of Estonia and is also the centre of Southern Estonia. Tartu is also very proud of its status as „University City“, as lot of city life goes around its 379 year old institution and its 17 500 students.