Competition is growing harder in the lead of FL-1200. Our expert commentators Trond Ørslie and Nina Skramstad argue that everyone is a rookie now.
– FL-1200 of 2018 is the very first 1,200 kilometers race to take place. [In previous years, it has been 1,000 km, journ.note.] Thus, no one has experience from a race like this. You really notice that everyone is a rookie – both mushers, handlers and expert commentators, Ørslien and Skramstad say.
At the time of writing, they have observed the lead pack up close at cp Neiden 2.
The current top 5 mushers of the race left the checkpoint as follows (no. of dogs in parenthesis):
Dallas Seavey 12:42 (8)
Petter Karlsson 12:56 (10)
Birgitte Næss 14:54 (8)
Kristian Walseth 16:13 (12)
John Erik Eriksen 16:27 (11)
The top 5 are expected to cp Varangerbotn during the evening.
– FL-1200 cannot be compared to the ‘old’ FL-1000. This is a quite different race. Given that as a starting point, it is hard to predict what will happen now, Ørslien admits.
Many ask the question of whether the winning chances are gone for favourites like Tom Frode Johansen, Marit Beate Kasin and Ralph Johannessen, who at the time of writing have not left Neiden 2.
When writing this, we are also informed that Thomas Wærner has chosen to scratch from the race at cp Neiden 2, due to diarrhea in his dog team.
– The top 5 teams are mushing really fast, however, many of them have rather few dogs left on their team. It will be incredibly exciting to see what happens during the next 24 hours. We see many new elements in this race that we have never seen before.
Ørslien/Skramstad are in particular curious to see what awaits the top 5 after cp Varangerbotn, when the trail twists and curls up the most extreme plain areas in the eastern parts of the county. The weather here can be merciless.
– Mushing too hard now can come back and hit you hard in the mountains.