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A Tale of Tallinn – Part Three

Runs Posted on Sat, November 23, 2019 12:11PM

Sunday, 08th of September. It’s Marathon Day!!!!! ??

As usual, I did not have a quiet night of sleep, I felt a bit nervous and not enough motivated to get up and run. Luckily, the Sokos Hotel Viru is located just 100 m away from the start line, so I had more time than usual to clear my mind and focus on the next goal. Ok it’s 8am already, time to get up and get equipped!

On the way to the start line there is still time for some pictures to take.. what’s the hurry anyway? ?

The atmosphere at the start line was energetic, people were warming up or chatting with each other. 

3..2..1.. goooo!!! Let’s conquer the streets of Tallinn!! ?

The first kilometers went by quickly, since we were all fresh, energetic and cheered up by thousands of supporters along the streets. Running with the selfie-stick and actioncam in one hand did not make it a ‘walk in the park’, but taking pictures and filming was worth all the effort! 

After 4 km, we had the first encounter with the sea and greeted the ships of the Seaplane Harbour Maritime museum.

The route took us through the city streets and parks, on long roads with happy running people. At the 16th kilometer mark we reached the highlight of the whole marathon: the Zoo!!! I was really looking forward to this moment, as it never happened to me in my running career to visit a Zoo during a race!

I was greeted at the entrance of the Zoo by some cheerful volunteers. One of them even looked at the Romanian flag on my BIB and cheered for me: “Go Belgium!!” – No Belgium! Romania! I had to reply to him ?

The Zoo was awesome!! I took the chance to stop, make pictures and film the animals + some runners dressed like them!

More footage from the Zoo crossing is waiting for you in the video at the end of this story ?

Afterwards, we went through a forest, where the air was fresh and welcoming and I could take the time to reflect about our journey in life and how running a marathon compares to it.

My philosophical thread of thoughts stopped when reaching a city park at km 28 surrounded by music and happy supporters. Not to mention the batteries of my actioncam were going empty. The device had to be reconfigured and so now I was that tech-addicted guy running in the park ‘playing’ on his device instead of enjoying the atmosphere. ??

…’cause there is no hurry ?
Once again.. the sea!

Small cramps on my thighs were starting to appear but luckily, at the 32nd km there was a kid with Icepower spray. He saved my muscles! My feet cooled down and I did not feel any cramps for the rest of the marathon! I was overall slow but without hitting any ‘Wall’, the last kilometers were a delight! There is no enjoyment for me without dancing, cheering with the supporters or encouraging other runners!! 

Experiencing the marathon like this is more meaningful than shaving off a few seconds or minutes from some targeted time after suffering for 42km and then not being able to walk normally over the next days. The Marathon has to become a race to bring joy and happiness. Being competitive is nice but at my current level I don’t feel that it will bring me a better experience. 

Having that in mind, there was time to exchange a few words with the 4h30min pace-makers at the 40th kilometer. One of them was pleasantly surprised when he say my BIB: “Oh Belgium, very well!” No, it’s Romania!! ?

I understand their confusion because the flags of Romania and Belgium are similar in colors and seeing a Romanian flag on a BIB was a very very rare opportunity during the whole weekend. As a matter of fact, there was only one runner representing Romania at all events:

The last 2 kilometers took us back to the city centre with the finish at the Viru Gates, where we started. The whole area was a big party with dancers dressed in traditional costumes, people walking around with medals around their neck and many supporters waiting for their favorites to cross the finish line.???

It cannot end without a traditional non-alcoholic beer ?

Running a marathon should not be about pain and suffering. I did all my best to prove that and it worked out very well 🙂

Thank you, Tallinn! ?

Watch the whole marathon experience from a video reporter’s perspective ?

A Big Thank You to the organizers of Tallinn Marathon for inviting me to take part in this whole experience and for showing me their beautiful city!

Congratulations for receiving the World Athletics Bronze Label, you deserved it!! ?

More info on

A Tale of Tallinn – Part Two

Runs, Tours & Experiences Posted on Mon, November 04, 2019 12:33PM

Saturday, 7th of September. It’s the second day in Tallinn and the best way to start it is with a biiiig breakfast at the Sokos Hotel Viru! It includes food and drinks for all possible preferences and tastes so one could not really get out of there and still be hungry ?

The day before the marathon is usually one where I have to think carefully about what to eat and do. The meals have to be rich in carbs and veggies and a higher amount of liquids (to be understood as water, tea or similar) is required. All the ‘extra weight’ in my body has to be eliminated before the race, so that I will be able to finish it without stomach problems and not encounter moments where my energy goes down to 0. Activities that cause tiredness should also be reduced to the minimum.

With that in mind, the big healthy breakfast was the best choice to give me energy for the first half of the day and then to let me make better nutrition choices for the other half of it. As for the activities to undertake, well this part is also tricky. On one hand, being the first time ever in Tallinn and having most of the day free is an excellent opportunity to explore the city as much as I can. But Tallinn has many beatiful areas outside the historical city centre and walking around the city to cover them would leave me super tired at the end of the day! ?

The Solution: the Hop On Hop Off Bus! One 24h ticket was valid for 3 different sightseeing lines through the cities, each line having the color red, blue or green. The buses were equipped with audio guides in 9 languages, where each point of interest was narrated as the bus drove close to it on its route. The visitors could “hop on” and “hop off” as many times as they wanted, during the validity of their ticket. ([1])

Well, that turned out to be really helpful: I could see all the important parts of the city without spending a physical effort to get there!

A self-driving car

The Green Line

Strike a pose!

Chill before the marathon ?

After so much sightseeing on different lines, it was time to watch the next event of the Tallinn Marathon weekend: the 10K race! With more than 7000 participants, it was actually the most attended event of all. ([2])

Waiting for the runners at the Drama Theatre

After the race, the time came to find a good restaurant with vegan menu, in order to provide my body with a healthy carbo-loading before the big race. The Basiilik restaurant was close to the hotel and offered a menu with many options, so why not giving it a try? ? ([3])

Carrot-pumpkin purree soup

Spinach ravioli with vegan cheese  and Marathon map

I also had a pizza among these meals, because something told me that for a proper carbo-loading I should not stop after the super yummy carrot-pumpkin soup and the spinach ravioli… yeah, just looking at the marathon map was enough ??

The day ended with my usual pre-race routine, before going to sleep: 

  • T-shirt, shorts, shoes, cap, rain jacket, running watch, race bib etc. ✅
  • action-cam, selfie-stick and accessories ✅
  • check the course map and profile one more time ✅
  • arrange the logistics ✅
  • set the alarm to not oversleep ⏰ – it happens rarely, because usually I do not sleep a lot before the big race, but anyway ✅

Everything seems to be prepared for the marathon. 

However, am I really prepared for this?? ?

External references:




A Tale of Tallinn – Part One

Runs, Tours & Experiences Posted on Sat, October 26, 2019 07:34AM

Friday, 6th of September 2019. It’s almost 1PM and the LOT Airlines plane lands in a small airport in Northern Europe…

We’re in Tallinn, Estonia!!

Wait, where?? Take a look at the map ?

That’s actually the northermost point I have ever been to in my whole life! This definitely calls for a Marathon!

I’ve heard many great things about Tallinn and Estonia before my trip: best preserved Old Town in Northern Europe, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, the only country in Europe where you can vote online, friendly people, a lot of nature and the list goes on. What else could this beautiful city possibly offer in order to make me book flight tickets and land there on the 6th of September? ?

The Marathon, of course.

There was no time for a first walk around the city, because the organizers were kind to invite me to attend the press conference which was starting in an hour. Luckily, the trip with the tram from the airport to the city centre takes only 15 minutes and the hotel was close to the press conference location. 

That would be efficiency summed up in a few words: fast commuting, quick check-in, so perfectly on time for the press conference.

Press Conference time!! The selected location was the Tallinn City Council, a pretty old building with a vintage style. The top athletes who arrived for the race weekend were sitting at a table. Opposed to them, some Estonian press and television was preparing to record the discussion. Ok the moderator has just started to talk, let’s go live on the Facebook Trek and Run page! He is saying something in Estonian, now some of the Estonian guests take the microphone and continue speaking in Estonian.. sadly no English translation for us ?

Luckily we received the lists of race favourites for the 10k, 21k and Marathon so I could make a better idea about the importance of the event. There were no super big names on the scene, but I could recognize the names of Lily and Leila Luik – two of the famous Estonian triplets who competed at the Rio 2016 Olympics ([1]). (The two sisters ran the 10k race in Tallinn finishing in 3rd and 4th place)

The running triplets were not present at the press conference. Instead, another Estonian local hero, Liina Tsernov, was there and said a few words about her expectations before the 10k race.. well, at least that is what I think she said, since there was no English translation ?

Afterwards we had a few words from Roman Fosti, the runner whom I could recognize from the Marathon promo picture, and Nina Lauwaert from Belgium, competing for the 21k race. Luckily for me, Nina Lauwaert did not speak Estonian, but English. I was relieved. She told that her 21k is actually a preparation for the Berlin Marathon, where she needs to achieve a qualifying time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The microphone was passed to the Kenyan marathoners, Moses Too and Bernard Sang, who were hoping for good weather conditions so they could do their best at the marathon. (Bernard Sang did not break his Personal Best but still finished in 2nd place with the time of 2:13.47)

Nina Lauwaert (BEL)
Roman Fosti (EST)

After another round of talks in Estonian, the press conference finished and each athlete was approached by journalists for separate interviews. I used the moment to have a few words with Belgian marathoner Nina Lauwaert. She told me that she was running the Halfmarathon in Tallinn as a preparation for the Berlin Marathon at the end of the month. Having missed the qualification for the upcoming Doha IAAF World Championships, her goal is now to run under the 2h30′ mark which will allow her to book the tickets for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The qualification criteria for Tokyo are actually more complex and finishing under the time limit is only one of the options ([2]). (Nina Lauwaert finished the 21k in 3rd position with 1:12.23) ?

Then it was the time to talk to the Estonian local hero Roman Fosti, also running the 21k in Tallinn as a preparation for the Doha World Championships, where he is targeting to finish under 2h20′ in the Marathon. The heat in Doha will play an important role so it will be interesting to see how will he adapt to it. He intends to participate in the Valencia Marathon later this year. We also discussed about the upcoming Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, where Eliud Kipchoge will try to run the Marathon under 2 hours ([3]). (Roman Fosti finished the 21k in 4th place with 1:04:53) ?

So much athletics information in just one hour.. wow!! The press conference really brought me directly into race mood. It was great for me to transition from the avid athletics races couch watcher / amateur runner to interviewing top athletes and get their feelings before the next challenge. I liked their positive attitude, determination and focus towards their big goals. Winning every race or breaking a personal record every time is not feasible. Making small and smart steps to achieve the big goal will be more rewarding than pushing the limits when it is not necessary. ?

Ok time to get some Tallinn flair, we’re in the famous Old Town so let’s walk around a bit..

Soprus Cinema
 Town Hall
 Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The first event of the weekend, the We Run TLN 5K race, took place later in the afternoon so it was about time to put on those running shoes, watch the runners and do a first run through the city centre! Let’s watch some first impressions:

Running in Tallinn is great!

Time is flying and the sun was setting over Tallinn. In other words, no more sports, but two other lovely activities: dinner and sleep. Good night, Tallinn!! ?

External References:




Tallinn Marathon Results: