By Ints Kalnins
Going to the sauna is an ancient tradition in Estonia. Almost every home owner has at least a small sauna in his/her house or backyard.
Going to a sauna has always been important for socializing, even in ancient times.
A year ago the cultural center in the small south-eastern town of Otepaa decided to organize a sauna marathon. There was a lot of interest in the event and it was even voted as one of the best tourism attractions in the county. This year more than 600 sauna friends arrived to race between and enjoy 20 different saunas – from ancient smoke saunas to modern ones in local spa resorts.
People were organized into teams of four members. Each team was given an orienteering map showing the locations of the saunas and a competition guide. All team members had to be in each sauna for at least three minutes. To check this a team had to give their sauna card to the owner of the sauna upon entering the sauna and the sauna owner confirmed that the team members completed the sauna by marking their sauna card.
As a bonus, there were ice holes to dip into after a sauna, plunge pools and other attractions as well as entertainment provided by sauna owners. This year a heavy snow fall also presented surprises for the participants.