Friday, 6 March 2015

The calm before the storm

Yesterday was a bit crazy. We arrived in good time, around 9.30am, said a quick hello to some fellow mushers (including Radek Havrda, Daniel Juillaguet and Jean-Phillipe Pontier all from LGO) and headed for our Cabin. It's about 3m x 3.5m with beds for 4 inside plus a table, fridge and little cooker. Quite civilised really. After a little unpacking we went off to see the vets to get our papers and chips checked (we had already done a full assessment of all the racing dogs with our vet in Kiruna who signed them all off with good health). Then it was a quick drive into Alta city where we had some lunch, registered for the race then headed to the mushers meeting. It finished after a couple of hours and we were surprised to hear that the ceremony in the city centre would take place that evening. So we all trundled outside, in little more than a light jacket, and the mushers paraded infront of the locals at the Borealis Festival. It was quite funny to hear them announce all the countries involved, including one from the UK, Jan and Milos from Slovakia, Radek from Czech Republic, a number of others from Spain, Switzerland, Germany etc and then a whopping 99 Norwegians!! 

Many teams have dropped out already, a lot with kennel cough, including (I think) Marianne Skothaug, who won the Femund 400 world championship title a couple of years ago. She would have been big competition for us in the FL500 but her absence doesn't make it easy... On the starting block will be Ole Wingren, his son and last years winner Ronny Wingren, Ole Sigleif Johansson (husband to Eline who took 2nd place in 2013), Elizabeth Edland (who does really well in good conditions and hard trails), Taisto of course, Jan, Radek... I'm sure I've even missed a couple from this list of top competitors. Everyone who's anyone in mushing seems to be here. 

The picture is from last nights ceremony. It's a rubbish photo I know but I couldn't get any closer because of the vast crowds! In the distance you'll see the flags from each country with the mushers beside. 

After the festival we went along to see Kenzo and Patje at Holmen hundcenter where they work. Kenzo worked at Taistos kennel last winter and he sent us a kind invitation for dinner. It was totally yummy food and good company so a huge thank you to both of them for entertaining such a big crowd of us (3 mushers and 4 handlers). 

So today we're now preparing everything. The sled, the car, the dogs, us!! And later we have the start banquet where Milos gets his official starting number. Then we'll know when he starts tomorrow. I think it should be around 11.20am (or 10.20 GMT). 

I'll be back with more later. Til then ciao! 

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