This is the Leg!

May Conny Johansen om etappen fra Alta til Jotka.

Written by: Hanne Rosenberg/Lise Ottem/Transl. SM Arctander
Photo: Geir Stian Altmann Larsen
Date: 10.03.2012 14:34

The musher May-Conny Johansen (44) from Alta has participated in Finmarksløpet 5 times and has just started on the first leg in Finnmarksløpet. Before she started, she described this part of the trail for us.

The leg between Alta and Jotka is special for all the mushers. “It’s always exiting to start out from Alta. With several thousand spectators down town there are many aspects to pay attention to and both mushers and staff are tense in the hours before and during the start”.

To drive down the main street is a kick, says the experienced woman from Alta. “When you have started it’s too late to turn around, what hasn’t been fixed it’s too late to think about now. To have a passenger in the sled who we can share parts of the experience with is nice too.”

After they leave the main street, they get to the famous Alta River, one of the world’s best salmon rivers. After about an hour, they get to Sorrisniva where the FL-1000 is restarted. The passenger thanks for the ride, they change sledge and the last four dogs are added to the team. All the mushers start out from Sorrisniva in the same order and with the same time difference as they left Alta.

After Sorisniva they get to the toughest hill in the race. They leave the river and run through Bollo and continue towards Gamas.

-This is a very hard leg for dogs and mushers. You have to work hard in order not to lose speed. When they get to the top the mushers can be very sweaty. Good clothing, mainly wool next to skin, keeps them warm and eventually they dry up.

Before you get to Gamas, the mushers run through Bollo, where many people have a tradition of gathering to cheer on the mushers. –It’s fun and motivating to experience people along the trail. We know there won’t be many later on, smiles Johansen.

From Gamas they continue on to the mountain plateau. Up until now there have been trees, but now the plateau feeling gets real. It is possible to see far both ahead and behind you. On this leg there are many teams and it is crowded on the trail, and you pass some and some pass you. There are rules for this, and the one overtaken must stop and help the other to pass.

-When you stand on the sled and see teams behind and in front, you realize you are part of something big! says May Conny who is extremely happy she was the one in the family who got to race this year.