This is the leg!

Written by: Lise Ottem/Transl. Hans Ole Sandring
Date: 13.03.2012 02:43

This year, the roundtrip Neiden 1 – Kirkenes and return has been turned around. This is the first time the trail head in this direction, Pasvik Trail (another sled-dog-race) follow more or less the same trail. Tom Frode Johansen has raced this direction several times when he competed in Pasvik Trail, and in the opposite direction in Finnmarksløpet. He gives us a review of the trail.

Tom Frode Johansen feel privileged when he is asked to describe this beautiful leg between Kirkenes and Neiden 2. –If you ran fast, it used to be tough hills towards Kirkenes when the leg was heading the opposite direction, he recalls.. 

Johansen has often taken out his compulsory rest in Neiden 1, and used to start out early in the morning. –This leg has some of the most beautiful landscape on the whole tour of Finnmark, says the man from Bergen, currently living on Furuflaten in the northern part of Troms. –The best time in the world to drive dog sledge, is to drive early in the morning when the light comes back.

Nothern Light at Neiden 1. Photo: Helge Sterk

Safely out from Kirkenes, you approach a mountain plateau and you pass lakes. From here you face some brutal descends before the musher and dogs approach the river that divides Norway and Russia.

From here you race through flat woods where the tail at times follows some forest roads. The pine forest protects against the weather, and you pass beautiful lakes and lonely cabins surrounded by spruce forest. Then you pass areas with marsh, lakes and then through spruce forest.- This is a place with a fantastic terrain for dog sledge racing, describes Johansen. –Later, after some hours in this terrain, you approach the Finnish border and follow the border fence between Norway and Finland. This is a hilly terrain, and after a while the trail turns towards Neiden again, and the terrain gets easier. You pass several lakes, and now you leave the pine forest and you enter the birch forest.

-This area often has trails with nice snow conditions. I look forward to this part of the race; you are outside with the dogs, and at the same time you race pretty fast because the dogs have rested after a long pause.  

Photo: Mina Sveen

Photo: Jørn Losvar