The field is wide open in the open class

Author: Fredrik Ljone Holst (transl. Espen Rasch-Ekstrøm)     Photo: Egil Scott Jensen     Publish date: 04.02.13 02:27

When the F 600 mushers set out from Tynset at dawn Monday, is still completely open who takes the victory. Only minutes separate the three guys in front, with Sigrid Ekran as an outsider in fourth place.

Photo: ScottPhoto 2013

Ralph Johannessen took over the lead when he embarked on Folldal round. From Tynset he is the man to catch to be first to Røros.

For although Sigrid was overtaken by Thomas Wærnes on the way down from Grimsbu,  the distance up to Ralph Johannessen is no more than 32 minutes, and as Ralph pointed out even as he headed towards Tynset: "The road ahead is long, and a lot can happen before Røros. " But the smile that lay in wait when he said it was perhaps a hint that he has come to believe that this could go his way? Last year was the final battle was fight between him and Robert Sørlie. Barely one hour after Tolga, was it still only a few hundred yards between them before Robert overtook him and came to a pretty clear victory.

This year, Robert left behind on the Folldal round, but it does not mean that the way to Røros is a parade march for Ralph. Right behind him is Arnt Ola Skjerve. At the ceremony last year he made it clear that he intended to win Femundløpet 2013.

Arnt Ola was the first Drevsjø and led the 600-kilometer from Søvollen to Grimsbu I. He got longer rest than Ralph both Tynset and Grimsbu I, but the question is whether it will give any results half a day later. In sum Arnt Ola’s team rested just over a half hour more than Ralphs, and after two and a days on the trail, there are only six minute difference in the total running time.

Both Ralph and Arnt Ola have 10 dogs left in the teams               . Sigrid has nine dogs, while Thomas is still mushing with a full team. That, combined with the fact that he has raced faster than Ralph and Arnt Ola at all stages after Søvollen are strongest arguments in favor of Thomas right now. But still there are two stages and over nine miles to the finish line in Kjerkgata. So the question is has he enough speed and stamina to overtake the two ahead on the trail. Have Arnt Ola something extra energy to burn on the way to Røros, or should it turn out that the "old fox" in the group can last all the way? Or will it Sigrid coming from behind and suprise the three guys racing in front?

Three hours before Ralph finished the compulsory rest and can leave as the first musher, the questions are many. Most of them will only be answered when the winner is on top of Kjerkgata to recive the well-deserved cheers on the way down to the finish.