Rookie handlers

Author: Fredrik Ljone Holst (transl Tove Tronslien)         Publish date: 01.02.13 22:16

At Tufsingdal checkpoint a team of three handlers are awaiting Øyvind Nordahl Næss and they have one thing in common – they are rookies.

"It's questionable if he had any idea what he was doing putting together a team of handlers that have never done this before," says Hilde. Truthfully, she has been a part of Femundløpet before - in 2012 as a volunteer during the start at Røros.

Evidentially she learned how to dress well for the occasion, maybe a little bit too well. Hilde prepared for the same double-digit deep freeze temperatures as experienced last year. She is afraid the clothes she packed this year won’t be the best fit when the minus degrees are being reported as a one digit number.

With her on the team she has Silje and Geir. When asked if they have received any reports on how Øyvind is doing in the race, Geir quickly answered it was the other way around - "He called us, not to tell us how he was doing, but asking how we were doing," he says with a smile.

At the first checkpoint it seemed like the trio had already learned an important handler skill – waiting. From the start at Røros the trek to Tufsingdal isn’t particularly long, but it takes a few hours until dogs and mushers make it down the 90 kilometers from Storvartz and along Femunden.

The handlers does not only take of the dogs and the musher, they also need food and rest, and maybe a cup of coffee at the local community centre. But as rookies, they’d rather spend the extra time preparing for the sight of Øyvind and his team of 12 dogs coming though the forest. "We'd rather be prepared than him having to wait for us when he gets here," they explain.