Tartu city trip
I been to Estonia so many times the last couple of years for business trips and each and every time I try to get out and see something new of the country. I had not been to the central city of Tartu in the past and when I googled for running races I saw there was a marathon there. I wanted to run a marathon and also do sightseeing in Tartu so what would be a better match for a Saturday excursion? Since I don’t have a rental car this time I tried to local train to head there. It went very smooth and Estonia is quite high tech so you just needed to blip your credit card in the entrance to purchase a ticket.
Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia located approximately two hours South of Tallinn. The city is a university town and known for all wooden buildings. I thought the city center was very pretty with parks, hills and architecture making you feel like you were somewhere back in the history. However, the city is fairly small and the outskirts where the marathon also passed wasn’t impressive. At all. You can easily see everything during one day so if you are in Estonia for a long its worth a day trip. Nice to see but I won’t go back.
Pre race expectations
The last marathon I ran with in June in Stockholm. That was a disappointment and I don’t like to run it except for all friends and family that are watching. I have signed up for Valencia marathon in December which has been on my marathon list for a long time and I wanted to do a training marathon in between so I was happy to find Tartu marathon. I really had zero expectations in regards to time and my plan was to go with the flow. A marathon is long and every time finishing it is a happy moment. Honestly. I do still after 27 marathons hold a great respect for the distance.
It was way colder than I expected so I was freezing a lot when the run started and the first five kilometers. It gave me flashbacks to NYC marathon which been the most ice cold running experience in my life. I don’t know how many participants there were in the Tartu marathon distance but it wasn’t a large race which has it pros of no rush in the start. I found a good pace from the start and kept on going. After ten kilometers you more or less know if you will struggle or not during the remaining part and today I good. I don’t like the large marathons where you need to apply for a ballot spot or sign up half a year in advance because I want to run marathons when I feel for it not having it as a must do months later because then I might not feel for it.
The course at Tartu marathon were mostly flat, until kilometer 40 where a really steep hill lasting for 700 meters was there laughing at all runners. I skipped bringing gels this time since I really hate eating them and hoped they had some better energy during the course. Luckily they had my favorites, orange and raisins. Thanks for that! The first 10 kilometers of running were pretty boring. Nothing really to see. The next 10 were more or less the same but it stretched outside the city limits and I like to run at the country side so it was good enough. The most notable experience during these kilometers was though that people in Estonia live in huge homes. Maybe you think of Estonia like a developing country but houses do more look like US size than European size and many of them have a very modern style.
At kilometer 30ish I teamed up with some locals that also had sub 4 in mind. We had a nice chat while running along the river of Emajogi. This was my favorite part of the race. Very beautiful especially with all colored leaf’s. A marathon starts after 30K and this one wasn’t an exception. Of course it was not a walk in the park although it physically happened in a park. My poor legs that hasn’t done any strength training in the gym since months got to feel they were alive. I will never ever become a fan of the 30-40K part of a marathon but still it is this part making me come back and sign up for new marathons. The feeling of finishing is worth it every time.
At 35K I knew I was going to make it sub 4 so my entertainment the last seven kilometers was counting backwards from my watch ensuring I kept the time. Almost on point, at 3:59:57 I finished my 42 195 meters. Marathon 28 completed and a new ,country to add on my worldwide marathon list.
/ Pernilla the marathon runner