2 March 2012

40. Haanja Marathon

Another milestone is passed and feedback is received. It was time to test my functional side on the traditional Haanja classical cross-country skiing marathon. This time the tough ~42 km race was a part of Estonian Championships. Strong competition was expected, but it rather turned out the opposite way. The best skiers were the same level as usually, but most of who I might be able to beat, weren’t here (unlike last year).
On the previous days, I didn't think I was ready for the event. I didn't feel prepared. The skiing possibilities have been quite poor this year and its volume in trainings has been significantly smaller. I could feel it in the technique: I was lacking most in balance, which is very important in long distances. But the engine was ready and running, so I did't bury my hopes to make a good race. The previous days I was doing fieldwork for the Estonian ski-o Champs in relay and "Näps" sprint relay. On the very last day, my training diary enriched by 2 hours and 7 km. The snow was just so deep and soft, that floundering around with skis was very complicated.
Photo: Tarmo Haud
On the competition morning, I did a final test to see what grip would work best. I have given up trying to make my own skis glide, so I lent a good pair from Ats Uiboupin. The rather warm weather with fresh snow was problematic for choosing the grip type. The right choice for me was waxless skis - just sandpapered grip area. This worked only for those, who were skiing in front. Testing (and the race) showed that the skis were working well on uphills, downhill was so-and-so, but not bad.
I used a bit different tactics this year: I started more aggressively. I used to keep an energy reserve for the last part, now I knew I would last til the end. But as I said, my technique was a bit problematic, especially when skiing faster. I was clearly wasting more energy than my closest rivals and I think there was no doubt that they understood that I'm not a skier! But I was surprised by the relatively slow pack speed on climbs, so I tried to pass others as soon as possible, to get going in my own pace.
Kurgjärve, 12th km
Photo: Tarmo Haud
Half way through, I felt strong and was moving pretty well. I was about 12th-13th and really hoping to climb some more places. After 25 km, something unexpected happened: my right hand pole's strap unexpectedly ripped and broke. I don't even remember what went through my head at that moment, but it wasn't anything pleasant. No way was I giving up! It was uncomfortable to ski just trying to have a grip on the pole. The speed decreased and it was a struggle, but it was doable. The worst part was when the pole got stuck in snow and I lost it. This meant stopping and going back to get it. Had to do that three times and lost a lot of valuable time. I was hoping to get a replacement pole in the next refreshment control after 1,5 km. I got two offers, but both of them were unfortunately too short for me. So I had to continue with my own. By that time, already 5 skiers had passed me. Having accepted that I'll have to continue like this for the rest of the race, I soon got lucky. After 5 km of skiing with a bad pole, I got a new one, a near perfect match, from Kristel Laurson. Thank you once again! Now it was time to make up for the lost time! Pretty soon I started seeing those who had passed me and overtook them pretty quickly before the last refreshment. Then there was a long gap before me and I wasn't able to catch anyone else. In the end, I finished 12th, 2:11 behind 10th/11th and 13:08 behind the winner. The winning time of 2:09:44 seems pretty good considering the conditions. It is very difficult to say how much time I lost because of my misadventure, but I'm positive that I could have finished 10th. 9th was too far ahead.
Finishing with different poles
Photo: Uku Vislapuu
I got what I went looking for: feedback from the body. I know where I stand and what I must concentrate on.
This has so far been my best position, but it wasn't the best comparing to the winner:
Year  - place,   ratio
2012 - 12th,   1,101
2011 - 18th,   1,075
2010 - 13th,   1,079
2009 - 17th,   1,120
2008 - 106th, 1,301
2007 - 159th, 1,196

So what else to conclude from this incident? I immediately got the same piece of advice from various sources: "check the equipment before the race." But... think I didn't? My pole handles were very worn and one had a crack in it. Therefore I got new handles and straps for my poles, the marathon was the second time using them. I've used the previous handles and straps with the same poles for about 6 years and am very pleased with them. The new ones were the same model, but a newer release. So, I've got old poles and boots that are on the verge of falling apart, but the thing that lets me down, are the brand new straps. Trust your old equipment!


  1. Always good reading. Keep up the good work!

  2. Meil oli sama jama. Rihmad pidasid vastu mõned paaristõuked alla mäge. Tagastasime need poele ja saime järgmised kasutamiseks. Need rihmad pididki praagid olema :)

  3. Rogaini euroopa meister edastas mulle sellise artikli: http://tinyurl.com/Yoko-odav-kaup
    Mulle anti ka garantiikorras uued, aga tõesti jääb küsimus: "kes garanteerib, et uued rihmad samuti peatselt puruks ei lähe?" Tõenäoliselt lähevad, aga mul õnneks vanad rihmad alles - oli vaja tegelikult vahetada ainult käepide.