Just because the FL500 has finished doesn't mean to say we're no longer obsessed with checking the GPS updates for the Finnmarkslopet 1000 that's still going on. Infact, it's hotting up a treat despite the windy weather cooling things off.
The leading teams are heading for Karajok where they get a final 10 hours mandatory rest. Up to that point resting has been a huge part of the strategy - where, when and for how long. Unlike the FL500 the teams take more than the mandatory rest as the race is longer and cannot be completed without it but of course this is the easiest thing to skip if you think you're in with a chance of winning! However the winning teams are usually those that stick to their race strategy and don't skip rest time, which you would pay for later down the trail.
Sigrid Ekran, last years winner and general all-round great girl, is in the lead. She's developed a healthy gap of nearly two hours as well as managing to rest her dogs more than the teams in 2nd and 3rd position. The events of the last 12 hours, namely the storms and gale force winds in the mountains that has hampered the progress of teams behind her, has strengthened her position infront as she was able to take advantage of longer rest at Levajok without the pressure of her greatest competition (at that point Birgitte Naess Waerner) catching up. Out of the top four teams Birgitte was the only other team that had rested at at the previous checkpoint Sirbma so she knew Ralph Johannessen (3rd) and Kjell Brennodden (2nd) would need to rest long at Levajok and this meant she could do the same. Meanwhile, Birgitte (left Levajok in 3rd position but has now slipped to 5th) had trouble with a storm in the mountains and parked her team to take respite in her wind sack until Steinar Kristensen came to her rescue and helped her progress along the trail. This episode has most likely cost her a podium finish on the race but I can imagine she was just grateful to have help to get out of the storm. Up to that point she has been fighting Sigrid for the Cabin - a prize to the person who finishes in the best position over 2 years. Birgitte came 2nd to Sigrid last year so if the positions were reversed this year it would come down to running times. But Sigrid has managed to hold on to the lead and is getting stronger with every km and Birgitte has now slipped to 5th more than 5 hours behind Sigrid. Surely, Ekran must feel confident at this point, but we also know anything can happen!!!
Completing this race is an awesome achievement and all credit to those teams that can finish competitively too. Our money's on Ekran to win and I can't think of a nicer person to win it! Go Sigrid!!!