Last year winner Anders Aukland will defend his title. The strong Norwegian has been on the highest place on the podium for two years in a row. To become a three times winner he has to beat the overall leader of FIS Marathon Cup Fabio Santus from Italy who has collected points from all the previous events this season. He also has to be faster than Jerry Ahrlin from Sweden who was victorious on Tartu Maraton in 2007. He comes to Estonia winning the two previous stages of FIS Marathon Cup in Italy and Germany.

Five times Olympic Champion and six times World Champion Thomas Alsgaard will also start along with Jens-Arne Svartedal from Norway.

Among women Sandra Hansson, the two times winner of Tartu Maraton and the leader of FIS Marathon Cup will take on the 63 km race along with Sabina Valbusa from Italy and many others.

The winner of Vasaloppet and three times winner of the Tartu Maraton, Raul Olle says the list of elite participants is formidable. “The best long distance skiers in the world will start. Ahrlin and the Auklands are for sure the ones to watch out for,” comments Olle. According to him the predicted cold weather will not affect noticeably the performance of top skiers. “Though it may bring us a group finish since it is hard to get away. In very cold weather the first skier has to work more than others. The followers can enjoy the slipper tracks thanks to the leader,” adds the three times winner.

The 40th Tartu Maraton’s 63km race will be held on 20th of February starting from Otepää Ski Stadium in the winter capital Otepää and finishing in Tartumaa Health Sports Centre.