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August Tammeväli: 80 years, 41 marathons

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PHOTO: Sille Annuk

August Tammeväli has done all 41 of Tartu ski marathons. This winter, the 80-year-old’s «ski coverage» reaches a couple of hundred kilometres. However, he doesn’t limit himself to skiing.

«Up to now, I’ve always done the full distance, but this year I won’t go for that. I was ill recently so de doctor told me not to overdo it,» said Mr Tammeväli. He still featured in the long distance starting list, yesterday, as No 4921.

Not going is not an option, as there’s no one else around with all Tartu marathons under his belt. There might be a participant or two, this year, who attended the first one. And some who would be his senior.

For instance, we have nuclear physicist Hannes Larsson, based in France, hitting the full distance this year. He was 82 this January.

According to Mr Tammeväli, he never fell asleep on marathon tracks, while acknowledging that getting older, speed and endurance do tend to go down. This can’t be resisted, time can’t be stopped. A few years back, he still used to be a six-hour-guy, but last year the clock stopped at 9:25. By the time he crossed the finish line in Elva, it had gotten dark.

In his younger days, Mr Tammeväli was into weight lifting, bringing him one silver medal and a bronze in Estonian championships. That was some 50 years ago.

Mr Tammeväli has actually covered the current Tartu marathon under six hours. He did beat five hours when the track was shorter.

The top achievement remains 254th place, but that was in the beginning days with participants less than 800.

Mr Tammeväli stumbled upon the first marathon purely by chance, hauled along by two gutsy female colleagues – let’s go give it a try. It felt different than today, no tracks prepared. Going from Tartu to Otepää. Later, the track has come in various ways.

Ski marathon

• 8,516 participants registered. 6,516 for the 63 km distance, 2,000 for the 31 km semi-marathon.

• Start for 63 km distance at Tehvandi sports centre, Sunday at 9 am.

• Start for 31 km distance, at Arula crossroads, at 12:30 pm. Participants are encouraged to consider mass movement of people and be there, for the start, minimum 90 minutes in advance.

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