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Haanja ski marathon goes virtual

Haanja ski marathon goes virtual

All cross-country skiing fans will be able to participate in the cancelled event on routes of choice after registration

The Haanja ski marathon, the final stage of the Estoloppet series for the season, which was due to take place this Saturday in Võru County, Estonia, suffered a last-minute cancellation due to the tightened Covid-19 restrictions. The annual race welcomes amateurs, but the government announced late on Tuesday that only professional sports competitions and events can be held around the country.

Outdoor exercise is now limited to groups of up to 10 people. But instead of lamenting their bad luck, Haanja marathon organizers found a way to rescue the long-awaited event, and even make it more massive.

Remote participation becoming the norm

"The government's decision to cancel the marathon came this week and since we had prepared all routes of the Haanja marathon, we along with the Estoloppet series' team decided to organize the 45th Haanja ski marathon virtually. This means all ski friends can participate in the competition from a distance until March 14," Haanja marathon head organizer Aare Eiche told ERR. "People can go through their ski route on the prepared routes of Haanja ski marathon, but also at their freely chosen routes, meaning the distance can be finished all across Estonia, even at home," the organizer said.

SA Haanja Sport board member Anti Saarepuu, Rõuge municipality council chairman Aigar Kalk and Rõuge municipality mayor Rein Loik launched the virtual marathon, encouraging people to participate. Participation is open to everyone who registers for the marathon until March 14 on the Estoloppet series homepage .

Three distances available

Skiers can choose to cover either a distance of 42 km, or the shorter 22 km stretch. Children are welcome, too, as a special 1.2 km course is arranged for them. The marathon's technique is up to the participants, meaning people can ski in both classic and freestyle way.

"Your results can be uploaded to the Estoloppet homepage, you can also get acquintated with the virtual race's conditions and keep an eye on results. Since the virtual Haanja ski marathon is not an official competition, we will not publish an official result list, results will also not be entered in the Estoloppet's official rankings," Eiche said.

The organizers caution participants to avoid gatherings while on the ski trail.

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