The lead teams of FL-1200 are currently struggling through the inhospitable mountain areas between Hillagurra and Levajok. Many are curious to see how much rest they choose to take at cp Levajok afterwards.
Our reporters are currently heading up the Tana valley and while on the phone with us, Kristian Walseth crosses the road and is about to start climbing the 60 km long mountain area between Hillagurra and Levajok. This is considered the most challenging area of the entire race.
Ahead of him on the trail are Petter Karlsson, Dallas Seavey and Birgitte Næss. The three are the first ones expected to arrive at cp Levajok 2. Once they arrive, they have covered 993 out of 1209 kilometers in this year’s race, which is the longest Finnmarksløpet ever.
Nina Skramstad and Trond Ørslien have both raced Finnmarksløpet several times and know all there is to know about how hard this mountain distance may be.
– It can be excruciating across that leg, both physically and mentally, Nina Skramstad says. She covered this distance as recently as in 2016, when she finished # 10.
– Walseth is crossing the road right now and starting the mountain crossing where Karlsson, Seavey and Næss are already on their way. The area has caused significant challenges earlier, among others in 2017, when the lead pack of the race ran right into a raging storm there, she says.
Trond Ørslien and Nina Skramstad argue that the race is wide open as per now. The weather is nice and the temperature is -21 degrees Celsius (-6 F). However, it looks quite a bit more challenging for those following behind the lead pack. Squalls of thick snow are expected later in the day.
– When the weather is rough, this is a very challenging leg that really puts the mushers to the test. They have to work hard all the way, Skramstad says.
The mushers have 10 hours of mandatory rest that must be taken at Levajok 2 and/or Karasjok.
-It will be interesting to see how much rest they take and where. They must take a minimum of two hours at Karasjok; other than that it’s left at their own discretion, the two say.
Skramstad and Ørslien are planning to transmit live streaming from both cp Levajok and on the river leading in to cp Karasjok.