Norwegian Champion Ralph Johannessen: -Sore and happy

Author: Fredrik Ljone Holst (transl. Femke van Gastel)     Photo: Geir Sørmoen     Publish date: 04.02.13 12:07

Ralph Johannessen kept his competition behind him during the last stage til Røros and could drive down Kjerkegata as Norwegian Champion and winner of the main distance of Femundløpet 2013. After the finishline partner and handler Inger-Marie waited - after that a massage and champagne.

Ralph Johannessen vinner av femundløpet 2013

Last year Ralph fought an intense duel with the silverfox from Romerike, which he lost in the last stage. Ralph says that he had been looking forward to a similar fight this year.
- I preferred to have him down on the ground, instead of having petty fights with this bunch, he said with a smile, refering to Arnt Ola Skjerve, Thomas Wærner and Sigrid Ekran that were behind him from Tolga checkpoint.

Fight om minutes
And like last year, it has been a fight for margins as the mushers got closer to Røros. Arnt Ola was only three minutes behind when leaving Tolga, but had been chasing from behind up until the last checkpoint. Only after he passed the driveway from Skistua, Ralph felt safe that the gap was enough to get him to the finish.
- From the top of the mountain I could see I had about 10 minutes. When I couldn't see Arnt Ola or anybody else, I knew I had at least 10 minutes.
At the same time it has to be told that he has been smiling at every single checkpoint since he managed to shake off his archrival Robert Sørlie at the Folldal-loop.

Nice run - hard competition 
Ralph said he had a nice race, but that there was a lot of working and running.
- The weather has been mild and nice, but at the same time it has been a hard competition the whole race. Never before were there so many possible winners for so long during the race.

And even though his tired legs probably longed for the massage that waited and the rest of his body wanted the promising champagne, there are others that will have theirs first. First in the row to congratulate is Inger-Marie, who has been his hander and has followed him from checkpoint to checkpoint.
And of course the dogs that have pulled him through the Fjellregionen for almost three hours need their care. All interviews and greetings have to wait till he has checked to see if his team is good.

We congratulate Ralph with his wel timed race and a deserved win in Femundløpet!