We look back at another thrilling Femund Race, which had us on our toes until the end. The race kicked off to a stormy start at historic mining town of Røros. More than 40 teams were at the start for the F650 race this year, which takes the mushing teams through several checkpoints and spectacular sceneries. Despite the weather, the teams were sent off by many enthusiastic spectators along the streets. Three of our QRILL Pet Mushing Team members competed in the F650 class this year.
What was new this year?
Many dog mushing fans around the world had the chance to follow the race live this year. QRILLPaws (QRILL Pet Arctic World Series) covered the F650 Femund Race live for 4 days, with expert commentators and live interviews. One of the expert commentators was 4-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey, who shared some exciting stories throughout the broadcast. In the end, this year's victory was clearly Robert Sørlie's. The experienced Norwegian won the Femund Race for the 13th time.
However, how did our QRILL Pet Mushing Team members perform and what challenges did they face along the way? Here are our highlights!
Last year's champion Thomas Wærner
Thomas Wærner & Co were off to a great start and took an early lead. However, both Thomas and the dogs were troubled by some sickness, to which Thomas commented, "the first 30 hours have been very rough." The team had participated at a smaller race just 14 days ago, where Thomas believes that his dogs caught a small bug. They were not eating very well early in the race, so Thomas decided to give them some longer rest at the checkpoints. This actually did the trick! The team eventually managed to come in 4th, which is a great achievement despite the hiccups along the way.
On his team were last years champions, K2 and Bark, however Krill turned out to be the sprint leader this time and motivated the rest of the team to catch up speed. Thomas said, "At the end fo the race my team was in very good shape again and the dogs were flying, which was really fun. This has been a tough race, which I hope is a good preparation for the Iditarod." The team will travel to Alaska in a few weeks to compete at the Last Great Race on Earth for the second time in Thomas' mushing career.
Last year, I had a really good plan to beat Robert. I knew to be at the top level this year, you had to compete really hard. Since we are going to Alaska, I decided to stayed competitive, but not push too hard.
Hanna's dog team had to race without her
The night before the race, Hanna started to feel rather unwell, therefore her mum, Trine Lyrek jumped in and decided to race with Hanna's dogs. Hanna's big goal this year is the Finnmark race FL-1200, which is Europe's longest dog-sled race. Not taking the dogs out to compete would have been a missed opportunity to prepare them for the bigger race in a few weeks. The decision definitely paid off, as the team finished at an amazing 8th place.
A very happy Trine later posted on Facebook, "The dog team was one of the best I have ever mushed. Despite all the challenges with the weather, the dogs just flew through and it was so much fun." She also thanked Hanna for giving her the opportunity to take on this challenge. We can't wait to see what this amazing dog team has in stock for the Finnmark race.
A young and energetic team Vinterdans
Marit took on the race with many young and unexperienced dogs from her kennel. Her strategy was to put some of the slightly more experienced dogs in the front, but into Trysil, which is the 3rd checkpoint, she noticed that several of the younger dogs wanted to go faster. So she put Summit, one of her young dogs in the lead, which definitely was the right choice. Marit said, "Summit really made a difference to our speed. He flew right through the storm."
At the last leg, Marit decided to also put Zen, Summit's brother on the lead. The two brother ran as leaders, as if they had never done anything else. They took the team through the finish line at Røros with a lot of pride. Marit commented, "It is always a big achievement to complete such a race, whether you come in first or last. There are many winners out there, especially the incredible number of four-legged heroes who have given their all. " The team is now getting ready to compete at the 1200km Finnmark race in March.
It is amazing to see how much the youngest dogs on the team grow during such a journey. From never having raced before to crossing the finish line after 650 demanding kms as leaders of the team. Seeing this tremendous progression gives me a lot of joy. All the miles, challenges, experiences and lessons learned in such a long-distance run provide a very rich and effective learning for all of us.
Marit Beate Kasin