Written by: Niels Westphal/ Trine Kvidal-Røvik
Photo: Steinar Vik
Date: 17.03.2017 20:49

1068 kilometers across Finnmark was not enough to separate Marit Beate Kasin and Petter Jahnsen. After 89 hours of competition, it was a sprint in the end between the two strongest teams in this year’s Finnmark race and it was not until the last kilometer at the Alta River that Jahnsen managed to get in the lead and create a gap to Kasin. They arrived in Alta only 15 minutes apart.

-  It was very, very satisfying, said a smiling  Petter Jahnsen.

Happy winner - Petter Jahnsen. Photo: Anna Riebelova

Finally Jahnsen succeeded

Petter Jahnsen (51) is a veteran in long-distance sled dog racing in Norway, and he has participated countless times in all the long races in the country. He has won the Femund Race as late as in 2016, but the Finnmark Race has a difficult battle. In the last seven attempts in the Finnmark Race, his best place has been a fifth. Last year he had the chance of winning both the Femund Race and the Finnmark Race, he ended up as number 12 in the Finnmark Race. He has scratched the race four times, but in his eight attempt the very nice Pete from the small town of Tufsingdalen in Os kommune in Nord-Østerdalen finally made it to the very top of the podium after a perfect race.

-We have had a lot of weather. Several times I thought I would not make to the finish line. But it is important to not give up.

How did you feel when you managed to get ahead of Marit Beate Kasin toward the end?

- It felt fantastic. I did not think it would work, but then I saw a few weaknesses and thought I had to try, said a happy Pete Jahnsen when he was interviewed immediately after having made it across the finish line.

As winner of the Finnmark Race, he will receive prize money of 70,000 NOK, and an ATV from Polaris worth 98,000 NOK and many other great prizes.


Marit Beate Kasin across the finish line in Alta. Photo: Anna Riebelov

Second place two times in a row

This is the second time Marit Beate Kasin gets the second place in the Finnmark Race. The 33-year-old from Valdres entered her third Finnmark Race after having starting with mushing only 8-9 years ago. Last year she was only beat by Petter Karlsson. This year, Kasin was the only woman with ambitions to be in the lead, and showed-off her great mushing skills all the way. She is clearly a first class musher.

But it was quite a challenge for the journalist Valdres. In the blizzard between Sirbma and Levajok, she chose to turn around. Had it not been for the competitor Kristoffer Halvorsen, who asked her to continue, she could have lost the second position right there and then.

- We were a bit empty at the end. I am very very, very grateful for the race that we have had. It is the best team I have ever had, and I am thankful for a great second position.

With the second place this year and the same place last year, Marit Beate Kasin is the clear winner of a Saltdalshytte cabin worth 550,000 NOK. In addition, she will get prize money of 50,000 NOK and many other great prizes.


Petter Jahnsen heading out of Karasjok. Photo: Steinar Vik 

Clearly the strongest

From early on in the race Jahnsen and Kasin showed that they wanted to fight all the way in the lead. As the race progressed, both proved that they had very strong teams. Still, it was not until the last stretch from Karasjok to Alta on Friday, that the two really got to show that they had the best teams in the field. In the 133 kilometers from Karasjok to Alta, Kasin and Jahnsen was able to get a good lead. At checkpoint Jotka 2, 50 kilometers from the finish line, it was clear that the battle over the gold medal would be between Marit Beate Kasin and Petter Jahnsen. In the end, it was Jahnsen from Tudsingdal who managed to get across the finish line as number one.

Petter Jahnsen at the Alta River, right after the start Saturday March 11th. Photo: Anna Reibelov

The race that had it all

During the race, which lasted more than 6,5 days, Marit and Petter and their fabulous dogs, crossed the Finnmark plateau twice. They climbed high mountains and deep valleys. Traveled across miles and miles of river ice, and crossed the largest lakes in Finnmark. They have gone through the deep forests of Pasvik, and made it through the traffic in Kirkenes city. They have traveled by the border to Russia. They have experienced bot stormy and quiet weather. Sun and whiteout. Seen the northern lights and the sunrise. They have been stuck in rough weather, and dreaded going out into the blizzard. They have fought each other, but also collaborated – taking turns being ahead on the trail, helping each other when the snowstorm gave them zero visibility.


Marit Beate Kasin on her way to Levajok Thursday. Photo: Steinar Vik

The most even race ever

Never before have we seen such an even FL-1000. The smallest margin in the past was when Inger Marie Haaland, beat Harald Tunheim in 2012 with 1 hour and 24 minutes. Never before have we seen as many teams fight for the win. When leaving Karasjok Friday morning, at least five-six teams could be potential winners.

But it soon became evident that Petter Jahnsen and Marit Beate Kasin would be the ones fighting over the gold. The others were never able to close the gap. They had to settle for a fight over the third place. From Karasjok to Alta, the two in the front left the behind.


Petter Jahnsen in Neiden 2. Photo: Niels Westphal