For the first time, Estonia was represented at one of the most difficult ultramarathons in the world, Fire and Ice Ultra, which took place in Iceland, at UNESCO nature reserve with an unusual climate and landscape.

On August 28, Joel Juht started one of the world’s toughest ultramarathons, Fire and Ice, in Iceland, where he had to run or walk 250 kilometers in only six days. Among nearly 30 participants, Joel was the only Estonian who started the ultramarathon. Joel Juht was able to win this race with a long lead. 

Text: Lenel Karu

Photos: private collection

Which was the competition like?

The start took place in the Central Iceland region. Before the start, we did not know the exact number of climbing meters, which in the end were 3,000 in six days. The athletes had no outside help and had to manage everything by themselves, including planning their food and watching their surroundings so as not to get lost on the course. Every day the track became more difficult.  The fourth day of the marathon included the longest distance (72 km) and I was able to beat the next runner by more than 20 minutes on that day. On the final day of the race, I passed the other competitors by more than two hours and finished the ultramarathon in a total of 34 hours and 29 minutes. 


Which were the most challenging parts of the race?

For once, I almost got lost. When I ran past the checkpoint on the second day and couldn’t see the right direction, the organizing team told me at the last minute to go left. 

Another interesting part of the journey was the place where the trail passed through cold water and the organizers recommended wearing sneakers, because the rocks can hurt bare feet. However, I decided to take off my socks and sneakers and increased my success.

Every day all of the ultramarathon competitors spent the night in tents. In the second half of the week, a storm raged in Iceland and the wind speed reached nearly 50 meters per second. So for example, the roof of the tent caved in the middle of the night and I didn’t sleep well. Fortunately, nothing flew away.

What do you think was the secret of winning this race?

Although I hadn’t used all the items in the gear before, it was still one component that played a huge role in the results. 

I ran for the first time with the new RaidLight backpack and I was very happy with it. Even though I took a ten liters bigger bag than it was supposed to be, it made it easier to pack things in and out. My bag was one of the lightest compared to the others. For example, I removed plastic bags from food packaging. 

In the past, tension had been one of the things that influenced the results. This time I let go of thoughts and just did my running. 

Every day, when the competitors reached the finish line, I did everything to help the body continue to endure. I put the clothes to dry, had to pump up my broken mattress, consume all the recovery drinks and of course I couldn’t forget the muscle care. I took care of my feet every day and it was something the others missed.

If thinking back, would I do anything differently? I don’t think so. Right now I can’t name anything like that. The preparation has been good and on time. If it’s hard in training, it’s usually easier at competitions. The recovery is also faster than before.

One thing is certain – the budget is big and without supporters you can’t do such self-surpassing. I think that if Fenix Adventure, a project supporting ultra-athletes of Fenix Casino, had not supported me, right now we wouldn’t be talking about this race and victory. They helped a lot with organizing logistics and equipment.

What will be the next challenge for him?

In the near future, Joel plans to do something that no one in the world has ever done before. “Currently, I am focusing on the preparation of the 20th anniversary show of JJ-Street Dance School. In terms of sports, there are only a few months left until the new challenge, and a surprise awaits, which is also partly related to my main field, dancing.”