FL-500: Race Analysis

Written by: Markus Kyrre Leistad/Transl. SM Arctander
Date: 11.03.2012 22:35

Markus Kyrre Leistad, winner of FL-500 2002, analyses the development of the race from Karasjok.

The fastest mushers are now all in Karasjok. 275 km has been covered and 194 more to go. They have done more than half the distance.

At Karasjok the time difference from the start is adjusted, which means that the first one out from Karasjok is the first one in the race. The positions among the first six mushers out from Karasjok are: Katy Meier, 7:51pm; Ole Wingren, 8:29pm; Ole Sigleif Johansen, 8:48pm; Leif Wilhelmsen 8:57; Bente Levorsen and Stein Are Harder, both at 9:08pm.

Based on the mushers average time at the different laps, as well as how they have predisposed the resting time, shows that Katy Meier for the time being does not show any sign of weakness. Her team looked fine when she arrived in Karasjok. Wingren and Johansen, on the other hand, are both running noticeable slower on the last lap, which is not a good sign.

At Levajok Wingren only rested 5 hours and 17 minutes, but since he had more than an hour rest at Jotka, he has been far behind the other leading mushers. This may result in him running on poorer trails than those going first. It will be interesting to see if this will make any difference when he now can start out as number two.     

Johansen got almost 6 hours rest at Levajok and started first on the leg to Karasjok. He was also first in. Despite of this, he was only able to keep an average speed of 13,7km/h on the leg. In comparison Meier had an average speed of 15km/h. Johansen has some big male dogs in his team, which clearly is a drawback in these conditions. This may change now as they have passed Gaisene (mountains) and Tana River.

Meier is within reach of both Wingren and Johansen.

Leif Wilhelmsen has so far used a different tactic. He has rested 6 hours and 20 minutes as early as Skoganvarre. The other five rested between 3 and 4 hours. In addition he has kept up a steady average speed on the last three legs. The difference up to the leading team is still more than an hour, which normally would be too much. But the difference to top three is not so bad.

When it comes to Bente Levorsen, her average speed indicates that she will struggle to keep up all the way to Alta. In addition she has taken out 10 hours and 55 minutes of rest in Levajok without it making much of a difference on her average speed.

Finally we have Harder who is an experienced musher. His average speed on the leg Levajok-Karasjok was as low as 12,9km/h, which is not a good sign. Finnmarksløpet knows that Harder has a young team and that he has had to change front runners while on Tana River. It looks as if he is about to be left behind by the leading teams.

The next leg goes to Jergul and is 67 km long. They are crossing Hundevidda (mountain plateau) which can get rough weather. It we get lots of snow or wind, this may be the x-factor that can totally change the order up front.