Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finnmarkslopet 2009: Part 9 - More News from Levajok

Hi, I am back with more info from Levajok checkpoint, 213km into the race. This is a tiny place in the middle of the windswept mountains, on the banks of mighty Tana river. The checkpoint is run by the Levajok Fjell Stuge - the mountain cabins, a favourite spot for summer fishing. The original old buildings burned down completely couple of years ago, just one week before the race started. It was very heart breaking for not just the owners, but many that fish here, or folow the Finnmarkslopet race. A great job was done to repair the buildings and put the camp back to life.

The atmosphere in Levajok was somehow the best along the race, that I have noticed. The tiny restaurant was crowded (no wonder, all the home made cooked stew, pies, meat soups and other great food was worth it!). The checkpoint was decorated with handcrafted ice towers with holes in them, with large outdoor candles inside, providing magical glowing light, Norwegian flags and evergreen branches were stuck in the snow, to add more celebrative touch. A big bonfire was made in the fire pit on the hightest point of the river bank and many race fans, handlers, volunteers and race officials found it´s warm flames and the raindeer skins to sit on, a much welcomed cozy warm up.
Unfortunately, by around mid day the showers were not available anymore, due to hot water shortage.

Mikael left Kayla out of the team, as she had quite a sore shoulder and did not recover even after the 7 hours of rest, with a lot of thorough massage and aplication of Algyval.
She went immediately to sleep, as we loaded her in the truck, otherwise she looked quite good. Dotty was so glad to have another dog passanger with her! :)

From the competition point of view, it looks like Nina Skramstad is currently dictating the race a bit, she went straight through Skoganvarre last night and rested only 5 hours here in Levajok.

I spoke with friend and fellow musher Fredrik Filander (from Sveg, Sweden, running with purebred siberain huskies) and he said the trail from Skoganvarre was really tough. "Everyone warned me about the climbing on this stretch, that when it looks like I have the worst behind, the worst will yet come", he said. When his team swiftly mangaed all the horrible climbing, he said to himslef "now, that wasn´t so bad". And he was quite happy about passing a few teams on the way up. "Then something was wrong", he smiled. "I aproached a few mushers, who just walked behind the team. And then I looked up and saw this wall. So I became one of the walkers as well".
I personally believe that if nothing goes wrong for the team, Fredrik will make his first Finnmarkslopet 500 just fine. He has a great sense of humor that will help him overcome the odds.

I took the oportunity to make also some real camera shots of the resting teams and some details of dogs eating, sleeping, etc. , as the Levajok checkpoint is set up so that resting teams are withing reach from the line, where specators are allowed. I will upload those photos when I am back home and provide a link to their separate album.

Well, time to hit the road towards next checkpoint: Tana. Here is a series of pics, showing Mikael leaving Levajok:

Leaving the camping spot
Waiting for the checkers to give the team the go signal. In the front - another team getting ready to leave.

Mushing down the river towards Tana

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