Well, if you haven't heard by now, Milos was crowned Champion of Finnmarkslopet 500 yesterday afternoon after a steady last leg from Jergul to Jotka then on to Alta. It was a nail biting wait at the finish line as the last 50km seemed to take forever but he actually managed an average speed of 14.2km/h on what is considered to be the hardest part of the race for the dogs, not just because its the end but because they go through the same checkpoint as at the start of the race and its often a mental challenge for them to keep going at this point. More than once I've heard that you have to keep the dogs going through Jotka 2 because if you even stop for 5 minutes the dogs think they are stopping for a good rest and will often not get up again. Milos planned this well and snacked the dogs just a couple of km before the checkpoint to give them a mental boost to carry on straight through.
He arrived just after 3pm, half an hour after Eline Lihagen who along with Katy Meier had both managed to over take Ole Wingren who had trouble with his dogs wanting to stop on the final river run towards Alta. It proves anything can happen in the race, even at the end, and he went from second place to fourth in those last few km. Eventually he finished with 6 dogs whereas Eline had 8 dogs in really good shape at the end and Milos and Katy both had 7.
It was a stunning performance from the team, all in their first 500km race. Waf out-performed himself again, proving his worth as a fantastic leader especially through the mountain storms. He was invaluable to the team. But the team isn't just abut leaders and all the dogs did a great job. They were even ready to go again at the end but I think were very pleased that they only had to go as far as the car!!! Yes, they were tired, but there's no way they were ever going to give up.
Since finishing, we have been treated like kings... We were given a suite at the Rica Hotel in Alta (courtesy of the hotel) and managed to get a fantastic nights sleep in a full size bed! Milos was especially grateful as we were staying at the campsite before and he is 20cm longer than the bunk bed he slept in!!! And of course we've all been sleeping in the van the last couple of nights although all three if us have only managed 2 hours a night. So now, we are off to the local spa in Alta thanks to NRK, a Norwegian television channel. They have given brilliant coverage of the race including some live reports which can be seen on the website via the Finnmarkslopet site.
After that we have the prize ceremony and banquet. Milos won First Place and Rookie of the Year, and there are rumours that he also won Best non-Scandinavian... He has been recognised as the first non-Scandinavian to ever win the race. So it should be a good night... But we can't forget those teams that are still out on the trail and will not even make the banquet! We wish them luck in finishing the race.
Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for their support. We've seen many messages and comments on Facebook and on the Finnmarkslopet website etc and its great to see so many people enthusiastic about the race. We would also like to thank Jason De Carteret, our friend and entertainer throughout the race, who travelled all the way from London to help us on the race. Thank you also to Royal Canin who as always keep our dogs in good shape with their premium range of dry food that is most definitely our food of choice for the dogs. They love it and we had no problems with dogs eating on the race.
I will try and be back with some pictures and hopefully a word from Milos in a final update before we head home tomorrow.
Thanks for following!!!