20th March, 2017
Note – The race team were short a member of the team this year. The man usually providing creative services during the races is Will Roberts, our blogger, video geek and social media nerd. In a deeply inconsiderate move however, he took part in this year’s race. Consequently the Race Report for this race has taken a little longer to put together than usual. We’ve now reconstructed the notes our Race Director and Operations Manager made during the race and paired them up with some of the supremely talented Mikkel Beisner’s photographs to bring you this report.
The Day Before the Race
You wouldn’t think it when you look out at the endless white view all around you at Base Camp but this region has seen it’s lowest levels of snowfall for as long as anybody can remember. It’s had the Sami race team, whose local knowledge and survival skills are pivotal to this race, scratching their heads. Whether this turns out to be a good or bad thing only time will tell. On the one hand it means that conditions overall may be better for snowshoes as there are less soft, heavy drifts out there. On the other hand it may mean that some of the ice lakes, usually covered with snow too, are left slippery and exposed.
The Sami team are out doing final checks on the course on their snowmobiles making sure that the trail markers are all in position and that the lakes can be passed. The Race team have gathered all of the things needed for the race together over the course of the last two days and it’s been a military scale operation. The trailers, snowbikes, teepees, Nordisk arctic suits, burners, firewood and reindeer skins have been assembled and will move along the course with the runners each day. This race is a test of endurance for everybody involved, not just the athletes.
The runners have been briefed on the conditions out there and the way the race works. They’ve also all signed their registration forms and collected their race numbers so there is no going back now!
Next they’ll need to unpack their kit for the scrutiny of the Race Team and once these kit checks are signed off they’ll head to the campsite for a night under canvas. It’s minus 20°c outside. They’re all about to test their new sleeping bags to the limit.
Tomorrows forecast is wind and snow and the 50km course ends in a climb which would be difficult in good conditions. Welcome to the Arctic!