When writing this report, I realized it has been 5 years since our kennel was represented for the last time on Femundløpet. This race is Scandinavia’s most popular race in terms of entries usually.
While Karsten participated 12 times from 2000-2012 in the F600, to me, Femundløpet was never tempting when hearing his stories about steep mountainclimbs and loose trails. However, after having finished the 500 km. Finnmarksløpet in 2015 which was my first race over 300 km, Femundløpet seemed less ‘hopeless’ and could maybe worth a try. And so it happened that we signed up. To assure a nice experience, I would try the Femund400, 8 dog class.
Like with all distance races, it is good to have a plan beforehand and study what the frontrunners have been doing in earlier runnings of the race. When we looked at what the winners had been doing in 2016 and knowing that the race trail would be similar this year, we realized that the dogs would have to run 213 km. non-stop from the first checkpoint Tufsingdalen (93 km. in the race) to fourth and last checkpoint Tolga (306 km in the race) if we were to compete for a place in the top 10. We agreed that we would not ask that of any of our youngest team members of 18 months old, so three team members of the 14 we had in fall training, fell off from the ‘A’ team. This left us with 11 adult members ranging in age between 2,5 years and 7,5 years.
Poor snow conditions at home with no safety to put a snowhook in, left us little choice other than to run with rather small teams. It was decided that Karsten would be training the core 8 and I would be training the remaining 6, meaning the 3 youngsters Luce, Floss and Iska plus 3 adults who could rotate between the two teams. Because we prefer to have most males on the team, the core of the A team was made up of 6 males and 2 females, while the B team had only one young male Floss and females Luce, Iska, Iden, Babe and TomPoes.
During December, the A team made as much as 1300 km., while the B team was running approx. over half the distance. Luckily we had some periods of good snow condition by middle of January so when the time was due to do some marathon trips of two times 90 km. back to back, we could finally run a 10-dog team. On these runs it became clear that the oldest A team member Bo got a slight limp in his shoulder at times and was therefore no longer a candidate for the race. This was very much a set back as he is a strong male with fluid movements and has the experience from Finnmarksløpet 2015. The choice was now between Babe and TomPoes. Both these females had been performing as good as the others during the long runs despite less training, but where as Babe is always working feriously intense, TomPoes though younger, had some hormonal issues with mild signs of false pregnancy.
The day before departure for Røros, we took the 9 dogs to our local veterinarian for the pre-race vet check. Babe was first choice to become the 8th member but a slight heart tremor was heard which might be harmless, but also could indicate an infection, so as to not risk anything Babe was left at home and TomPoes became the final member on the race team.
The team consisted of the siblings Puak, Abel and Olive, siblings Pamuk, Pippi and TomPoes. Timmie and Erasmus. A rather young team with only Puak and Erasmus having experience from Finnmarksløpet in 2015, but the other ones had been through a 300 km. race either in 2015 and/or 2016.