European Sauna Marathon in Estonia Attracts Competitors From U.S, India

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About 1,000 people braved both freezing temperatures and steaming heat as they took part in the sixth annual European Sauna marathon on Sunday.

The less-than-serious competition attracted bathers-turned-orienteers from as far abroad as the U.S. and India. Armed with a map, costumed participants had to spend three minutes in each of the 20 saunas along the route in Otepaa, Estonia.

Among the destinations were a temporary sauna in a fire engine and a sauna nightclub. 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 line up in the freezing cold as they waited to log their sauna time.

"So, the key training for this event is to just run as fast as you can through the freezing cold and into a warm space over and over again and without dying," American participant Carl Pucci told Reuters. "Your goal here is just to survive — pure, brutal survival."

The fastest team finished in a time of 3 hours, 20 minutes and covered about 105 miles along the route, for which participants needed a vehicle. The winning team were rewarded with hot tub for their efforts.

Participants run to the nearest sauna during the marathon in Otepaa, Estonia, on Sunday.INTS KALNINS / Reuters
— Matthew Grimson

Reuters contributed to this report