I'm sitting in a cafe in the far north of Norway not far from the northern coastline that leads straight to the North Pole... And it's warm!!! By that I mean about -5 degrees and of course it's snowing heavily.
Skoganvarre is 108km from Alta and the 2nd checkpoint in the race. Everyone goes straight through Jotka as its too early to rest and the facilities are limited so Skoganvarre is the first real break. With about 160 dog teams, 1350 dogs, there's a lot going on although teams are already starting to spread out on the trail.
Milos said it went really well to Jotka, braking quite hard, dogs doing good, they even liked the hills. But then the snow came, the trails got soft and the wind struck up a storm. These conditions are the worst for our dogs who are used to the hard trails of kiruna and the problem is they work too hard to get through the snow. It shows in the average speed: 18kmph to Jotka then down to 12.3kmph to Skoganvarre.
Most of the team coped well but unfortunately Milos came to the checkpoint with Toby in the sled - our biggest dog in the team! With no visible signs of anything wrong other than being tired the vets also cleared him of any ailments. But it's a bit strange. I don't think I've ever known Toby to go in the sled. This is the dog that did every stage of LGO this year with much longer and harder stages. Maybe it's just not a good day for him but Milos's worry is that the other 7 dogs had to work harder because Toby was missing.
In this case Milos has done sooooo well coming from 9th place in Jotka to 6th place in Sloganvarre. But when you look at the fastest times and account for starting differences he did drop some places and lost time. He's gone from 3rd to 8th - and a minute slower than Taisto in 7th. Leif Wilhelmsen seems to be fastest on the trail so far followed by ole wingren, Eline Lihagen, Katy Meier, Roy-Age Jensen Ugseth, Elisabeth Edland, Taisto then Milos.
So, it's only a quick stop here and I have to wake Milos from his nap in 20 minutes to go again. I think this will be a slow hard stage for the team but I hope they can make it ok. Traditionally this can be the slowest stage for most of the "good" teams.
I attach a photo of Skoganvarre before the teams came in... It's now dark so you don't see so much now!! ;-)