The dogs were eating and resting well during the 8 hours mandatory stop in last checkpoint Tolga. They were all in great shape and had been running smooth and strong for these 306 km so far, of which 213 km. virtually nonstop. I myself had also nothing to complain about; being taken great care of by my handler team who were serving good food and plenty of drinks and informing me with good news like that we came into Tolga in 9th position. After a few hours of sleep – which only seemed minutes, it was time to make the team ready for the final stretch. When I was returning back to the dogs, Timmie was sitting and watching what was going on. By the time I had taken jackets off and started to bootie them, he was fit for fight and eagerly biting and pulling the tug line of his team mate in front who was not too impressed by Timmie’s action.
I had a good feeling for the last leg of 68 km. towards the finish, but decided to anyway get my skipole out so I could help the dogs along the way. We left Tolga at 08.35 hrs. in the morning.
Right after one leaves the checkpoint in Tolga there are some steep climbs and it was just a fantastic feeling that the dogs ran up these hills with full strength. Just after we left the checkpoint and in one of these steep uphills, we passed two teams of which one of them was a Sørlie team, running with the best dogs of the father and son duo. As I had jokingly mentioned in my pre race presentation that one of the reasons for running the Femundlløpet was to compete with profile Robert Sørlie, it was extra fun to beat both of these teams. Now it was a matter to not let this lead slip and try to keep our 7th place. I was struggling for most of the trip to get a good rythme in using my ski stick. The terrain was varying from open areas to quite some curvy and short, bumpy hills with trees standing close, which makes it hard to use a stick and at times I was on the edge to just break the thing and leave it for what it was, but as I was not sure I was going to have use for it later, I just kept on struggling. The dogs were running really well and while I was occupied to keep the other teams off our back and ‘fighting’ with the stick, I had no time to look ahead, when suddenly I noticed a team in front of us. The dogs had obviously spotted it too and picked up speed. Slowly but steady we approached. Just when we had gotten up to its heels, I stopped and snacked the dogs. The team dissapeared out of sight, but as the dogs were now turned on in race ‘mode’ and with renewed energy, we soon caught up again. We were now not too far away from the finish and the last stretch towards Røros was the same trail as we had been going out from the start, so the dogs recognized the trail and gave it some extra. I suppose it was only ca. 5 km. from Røros when we overtook the team in front and ran away from it. In great shape and still running strong, all 8 dogs passed the finish line in Røros on Sunday afternoon at 13.07 hours, where Karsten, handlers Eva Maria and Katarina and a little crowd of spectators were gathered. I do not know if it was the same speaker who told at the start that Siberians make only good tour dogs, but it was extra sweet to come into the finish with this result.
To say I was pleased with our athletes is an understatement. It had been a fantastic journey in every way; all eight of them performed brilliantly and gave me the feeling I had to stand on the brake rather than pushing them. They were happy and eager during the entire race. All kudos not only to the dogs, but also to Karsten who had been so meticulous in training them. It was obvious the hard work paid off. The trail was hard and fast and accordingly to others who had been running the race before, it were the best trail conditions ever. The weather was just perfect. Not too cold for us mushers and not too warm for the dogs. In addition, there was no wind to speak off and during the two night runs there was a beautiful moon out which gave a magical atmosphere.
All in all, our final run took us 4 hours and 32 minutes, which was exactly the same time as the winner had used. We finished in 6th place and we were 1 hour and 33 minutes behind the winner. Our overall time was 1 day, 15 hours and 38 minutes, and the winning team used 1 day 14 hours and 5 minutes. But what gave me most pride is that yet again the entire team of 8 dogs made it to the finish in great shape, just like at the IFSS worldchampionships/Finnmarksløpet in 2015.
I realized it is a fairly young team with only Erasmus and Puak having the experience from the Finnmarksløpet, but we hope to come back even stronger next year now all 8 have become seasoned racers.
As the banquet of the Femund race is held on the Tuesday following the conclusion of the F600 race, we decided to drive home so the dogs could get optimum rest in their own environment instead of having to wait two more days for the prize ceremony and banquet. It was very nice to learn though that at the ceremony our team was one of the nominees for Best Dog Care award. This was extra rewarding being a rookie in the race and running with a different type of dogs than the mainstream.
I hope we have shown that Siberian Huskies can compete in great style with the best Alaskan Husky teams (several of the teams we were competing against were finishing in the top 10 of Finnmarksløpet 1000 one month later) and that good dogs in attitude and genetics and good care in keeping, training, feeding and contact is key.
A Big Thank You to our amazing athletes Pamuk and Olive in lead, Pippi and TomPoes in point, Erasmus and Puak in team and Timmie and Abel in wheel.
To Karsten for the major key part of training and great support all the way, through good times and bad times. And to fantastic handler team Eva Maria Taavo and Katarina Palm Worrsjö for excellent care. And to fellow SH mushers Kenneth Monsen and his handler Geir Johansen for great support and help.
A Big Thank You to the organization of the race and to all who make the race possible. The organizers, trail crew, volunteers, veterinarians and sponsors.
It was my first Femund race and best Femund race ever! 😀
|Fastest||Winner||We||Leg km.||Total km.|
|1 Start Røros -Tufsing||6.06||6.20||6.32||90|
|2 Tufsing – Drevsjø||3.46||3.54||4.00||60||150|
|3 Drevsjø – Søvollen||4.49||4.57||5.04||73||223|
|4 Søvollen – Tolga||5.43||6.01||6.05||83||306|
|5 Tolga – Røros||4.17||4.32||4.32||68||374|
|Total||1.d. 14 h. 05m||1.d. 15 h. 38m|