It took a LOT of thinking, sleepless nights and many inner fights. The decision was one of the most difficult ones we ever had to make. We will not be running the Finnmarkslopet 500 this year.
As much as you may imagine we are disappointed, please know that we are absolutely positive it was the right decision to take.
The kids have not recovered all from the Tobacco Trail (and our 11 hour run over the mountains in the storm) as much as we would have liked them to. Or I should say not as fast as we would like.
Tazlina was on antibiotics for over a week as a precaution measure as the chief vet of Tobacco Trail Anette Johansson was worried she might be developing pneumonia after her epic performance and trail breaking in single lead for 11 hours, leading three teams in the storm. She is absolutely fine (thank to our quick judgement and treatment) and never developed any illness, but she was out of the team and missed a number of runs that were to keep the kids in shape between the two races.
Chilli was quite skinny after the race. Upon arriving to Övre Soppero II where we ended the race, he had a swollen wrist and limped slightly. The wrist healed within two days of intense massage with Emu Oil, warmth of wrist wraps and Reiki therapy. So did Grayling, who recovered from the swollen wrist within a day.
The problem we had was that majority of the girls in the kennel were in heat prior to the race and we even had two in heat during the race. Once back home, the boys were fully love sick all over again and more "depressed" that they weren´t in a team together 24/7.
It was hard to "feed them up" although we tried with all sorts of soups, cooked meat and snacks - they still did gain weight quite slowly due to their lack of appetite.
During one of the training runs it became obvious that Chilli is out of the Finnmarkslopet team as he was simply too skinny. I hate the thought of not being able to get the kids all in a nice, preferably "chubby" state, it is generally very hard for me to accept that some things simply cannot be achieved on that matter and only so much can be done.
Deep down I knew I can´t run the dogs the way we should before the tough race, more running = lower chances of gaining weight. They needed more rest to get to the shape I would like to see them in, and willing to take them on a 500km journey in the arctic.
We took them on shorter runs where they were doing fine. Grayling, Goosak and Runner put weight back on. I kept saying to myself that I will decide during the next run. Until this past Sunday, when Nugget didn´t pull much at all and seemed tired. He too, just like Chilli, got skinny and never gained anything back and it became obvious to me that he would have to stay home.
The other main string dogs were not trained for a longer period of time, after we left for Tobacco Trail and it simply led from one thing to another until we had to decide.
In Kipp d´Amundsen Kennels, we strongly depend on sponsorship and support of our family, friends and fans and a few of our great corporate partners. This year we received an overwhelming amount of support, for which we will always be endlessly thankful. We know that all these folks support us in following and living of our dream, and because they believe in us and our philosophy.
We feel very fortunate to have such wonderful people around us, and it makes this decision easier to make, knowing that our family, friends, supporters and fans trust our judgement and the fact that we would never put the health and happiness of our dogs in jeopardy and on second place after our own ambitions.
The dogs are the true athletes and heroes and the reason why we do all this. For us, it always has been, always is and always will be about them. Having doubts regarding their condition and health prior start of a 500km race is not about a challenge and adventure, but about being responsible. And that is why we, all packed and ready, have followed our inner feeling and withdrew from the race we dreamed of for so long, just few days before start.
We are grateful to those who support us no matter what and who second our decision and respect our difficult choice.
And on that note, let us present to you our "plan B" :-):
And you bet we´ll enjoy ourselves immensely and bring you loads of race info, pics and updates from the far arctic! Excited? We are!!