Femund Race ABC: How do you train a team of dogs?

Author: Kjetil Svanemyr / Morten Haugseggen (Transl)     Photo: Kjersti M. Godin Mj√¶rum     Publish date: 29.01.13 12:17

Most mushers entering the Femundløpet race have at least 3000 kilometers behind them on the sled. Many have considerably more, perhaps as much as 5000 kilometers.

Most begin the training season in august and increase the number of hours spent training during fall. Usually ATVs or four wheel carts are used before snowfall. During this period a normal training session can be between 10-30 kilometers. As winter comes the distance during each training session increases considerably. A normal training session during this period lasts between 6-8 hours and 80-100 kilometers. When the dogs have been through the necessary basic training, one or more test runs are completed. Both the length of the runs, the duration and feeding plan are closely matched a real racing situation. It is not enough that the dogs have run an impressingly high number of kilometers during fall and early winter. They should also be physically and mentally prepared for the tough challenges facing them in a real racing situation. This means they should be used to running 6-8 hours then rest for 5-6 hours, followed by another 6-8 hours of running. How each musher plan their traning is part of the secrecy in this sport. Very few of them are talking about the way they are training and preparing for races. Their plans for each individual race are equally secret.