Sauna Lovers Compete in Freezing Estonian Temperatures
Eestlased Eestis 12 Feb 2016  EWR
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Annual competition draws teams from around the world for a day-long soak.
Transitions Online 12 February 2016
Contestants stripped down to swimsuits and underwear to participate in the sixth annual European sauna marathon in the Estonian town of Otepää.

About 1,000 people entered the bizarre competition, The Daily Mail reported, with the winner being the team able to visit the most saunas in one day.

With some competitors clearly dressed up – or down – for the occasion, participants ran around the southern Estonian town to enjoy as many saunas as possible in six hours.

The competition attracted people from all over the world, Estonian World reported, with 217 teams following a rigidly enforced set of rules.

Each team was issued with a map showing the locations of the saunas and all team members had to be in each sauna for at least three minutes.

Participants earned extra points for taking a dip in an ice hole, or swimming in hot tubs. The large number of competitors meant some had to queue in the freezing cold as they waited to chart their sauna time.

The winning team completed the circuit in two hours and 55 minutes.

• Estonia’s national love affair with the sauna goes back many centuries and is rivalled only by neighboring Finland, Estonian World says.

• The origin of the sauna is in question, says, although most researchers agree that Finns have had some form of sweat bath for many centuries, as did many peoples around the world.

• The traditional Finnish sauna is actually an ancient form of bath, says, with women delivering their babies in them and any feast day usually beginning with a sauna the evening before.

Compiled by Piers Lawson
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