Sunday, March 1, 2009

FINNMARKSLOPET 2009 COVERAGE - Special Edition of Our Blog!

Alta, Finnmark, Norway. Latitude: 69° 55' 0N, Longitude: 23° 15' 0E. Way above the artic circle. Right by the Barents sea. 1109 km from Strömsund. And I will get to be there...

Sitting by my PC, drinking hot chocolate (it´s quite cold outside, -20°C) , making a list of things to pack. And writing one of my last posts to this blog, from a comfortable chair at my cozy home, before I leave.
My jurney starts on Tuesday, March 3d, early in the morning. I won´t be back until March 15th!
I am going to be part of Finnmarkslopet 1000!!!

Our new "neighbours" (anyone who lives up to 1 hour drive from our place, is considered a neighbour in our wilderness area), fellow mushers Mikael and Paula Jutila, moved from their home country in Finland, to the nearby Storobräna. They are just about 3-4 hours drive by dog team from us (yes, we can and plan to use the same trail system in the future), or a mild hour by car.
They ordered some harnesses and other equipment from our webshop and I offered to deliver it to them on Friday evening. A good oportunity to pay back a visit, see their place and kennel, and get out to be social. Besides I knew how busy they must be with packing and organising before their trip to Alta, where Mikael will run the 1000km Finnmarsklopet, so I offered to help try out the harness fits on their dogs right at the kennel.

We had a really nice evening and chat, and we were just out the door, when somehow the word came out that their second handler cancelled in the last minute due to some serious issues. And that was it - I am going to help handling for their team! An oportunity that one has to grab firmly - how else would I get a chance to follow this race and learn about the checkpoint rutines, soak up the atmosphere, watch the master-veteran mushers take care of their teams, follow their run-rest schedulles, talk with race vets and volunteers, and so much more! When you are a musher, you simply don´t get the chance to see the race from the other perspective and learn from it. The timing this year, with our recent cancelation of the season, is just perfect. Who would have guessed this development?

Again, I want to mention how wonderful partner I am blessed to have. Jachym not just offered to take care of the dogs and the household, and training them per schedulle, but he insisted that I go! I wanted to sleep on it and by the time I woke up yesterday morning, I heared him say at least 100 times that I simply would be dum to pass on this once in a lifetime experience and oportunity. The poor guy did not know, that if I say yes, I will ask him a favour, biggest of all - not to drive the dogs for 5 or 6 hours every day, not to borrow his newest hi-tech headlamp, BUT to actually borrow his most precious, the one and only Ericsson mobile phone. He took it like a man and unselfishly (with a big sorrow and suffering in silence) agreed to teach me how to use all kinds of features I will need for as professional coverage of the race, as possible.

Since not all of us are so lucky to be in the centre of action, I decided to share the experiences, thoughts and my views of the race, with public, through our blog. I will send daily updates if possible, and an ocasional photo, and will try to cover the race generally, Mikael´s team´s progress in particular, and some insight into the behind the scenes.

All the Finnmarkslopet 2009 Special Edition blog posts
will be marked with this logo:
I will have my camera with me and will upload the photos in respective albums later, when I am back.

So make sure to bookmark this blog or subscribe to it! Also, don´t hesitate to place link to our blog to some mushing sites and forums, and let people know that they can follow the big and awsome Finnmarkslopet here.

We´ll be staying in Alta until the race start on Saturday and then Paula and I will drive along the checkpoints, following Mikael, taking care of the dropped dogs (hopefully none!), and doing all our handler duties. If all goes acording to the plan, we should be getting back on Sunday, March 15th.

Learn more about Finnmarkslopet, find trail maps, distances between checkpoints, etc. on the official website at

And don´t forget to vote in the poll "who will win Finnmarkslopet 2009?" on the right sidebar!

Almost two weeks in the arctic! Less than two days to the start of the long trip! Woohoo!

Happy Trails,



Anonymous said...

So fun Katerina! Welcome up to the north! We will follow Finnmarkslöpet from home... Hope to see you soon ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hope the handlerjob leaves some energy to blog:) guess its pretty stressful to follow longdistance teams. But it will be an adventure for sure! Have a nice trip!

Katerina said...

Thank you, guys :)
I will do my best to be a good handler and "reporter" as well :)

Rikke, GOOD LUCK and safe trail to Ronny and dogs in Polardistans!

Anna, if you "need" to visit Canuck before I am back, just send us an email, Jachym can arrange it all with you :)


Jachym said...

Rikke, I am sure that she will blog, even with photos. Katerina have my new phone with me, so she could blog directly from it. That leaves me here with two old Nokias - one with unpredictable battery life (talk time 0.5-5min) + my old Nokia with half of the keyboard dead (really challenging to write SMS on that :)

Anonymous said...

No wonder you looked a bit suffering then...she BETTER blog, thats for sure:)
Good thing you have phone on the PC too:)
But a pity you will not keep Ronny company in PD, or maybe not, perhaps you would have tempted him with rum!
Chasey says hello! she scare of the doubled sized boys now with her intense barks at them he he