TIPS AND HINTS FOR ROOKIES
A rookie meeting will be arranged before the race. Before this takes place you can read some advice about what you, as a rookie should take into consideration upon preparation.
Our hope and aim is for most of the mushers to complete the race in a good and responsible way. This is what you as a musher deserve – as do your close ones, not to mention the dogs – who at every training have worked hard to succeed.
What should you focus on the last few weeks prior to the race?
- Equipment: Go through all equipment you are planning to use during the race and repair what needs mending. If you need to replace something, do it in good time before the race starts so you have time to test run it.
- Plan and prepare depots in good time before arriving in Røros.
- Feeding: Prepare a feeding plan for the race, as well as for the weeks before the race. Make sure that the dogs don't get too fat or thin before the race starts. Don't change food brand or type immediately before or during the race; instead reduce the fat content if dogs are going to be inactive.
- Training: Make sure that the dogs are trained on a regular basis, also the week before the race. Training before the race reduces the possibility of muscle breakdown and red urine during the race. You can easily have just one days rest before the start of the race. If you don’t have the possibility to train when you are traveling etc. ensure that you give a lighter low fat diet and less quantity of food. Surplus of food and little exercise can lead to muscular breakdown at the race!
- Support car: Service vehicle and repair things you know are broken, change the diesel filter (or bring backup) - it can get very cold in Røros and the mountain region! Bring a handler you trust and who has the capacity and patience to help you.
- Race plan: Make yourself a race plan that contains:
- Racing time and resting time between and at the checkpoints.
- Resting strategy. Do not start the race too offensive. It is no use adding on rest time at the end of the race if you have driven to fast at the beginning.
- Food and drink: Work out exactly how much calories your dog food contains and how many your team will need at the race. It is a lot more than you think!
- Dog care in general: paw balm, blankets, booties, massage.
- Rest: Plan for enough rest and sleep for yourself!
- Equipment: Bring good equipment in case you need to rest on the trail. If you are camping, make sure you stay off the trail – others will be coming and wanting to rush ahead without disturbance.
Accumulate energy surplus for yourself and make sure you get enough sleep. Try to stay fit; investing in your own health (also mental) is a benefit. Think of yourself as much as of the dogs during the final days before the race. You are the one who decides whether you get to complete or not.
It may be good to decide your level of ambitions prior to the race:
- Remember that you are racing against the world’s best mushers and it is not advised that you copy their racing plan the first year round. It is not usual in other sports that rookies compete alongside world champions. Imagine if at your first ski race you would compete against Therese Johaug or Marit Bjørgen.
- Do you want to be amongst the 10-20 first, beat your neighbor or brother?
- Or do you just want to do the best you can and finish the race in style?
- Feel free to listen to other mushers who wish you well.
- Don't be frightened by others (you think) have better dogs than you. Don’t get stressed if others run faster than you do at the beginning of the race. Many of those who start out (too) fast don’t make it to the finish line, and if you run in a sensible manner and according to your capacities you may well beat them.
- Build your confidence – this will go well!
- If you have several bitches in your team, make sure you have a plan for team set-up and where to tie them down at checkpoints, should you have several bitches in heat. It is prohibited to use medication to postpone the heat cycle of the bitches just before the race. This practice is only allowed if you give an injections for the rest of the dog’s life. We don’t recommend such hormonal treatments and it can’t be used if you wish to breed your bitch at a later stage.
- Try avoiding borrowing dogs from others at the last minute, because you are unsure of one or two of your own dogs. Mushing is a team sport that requires everyone in the team to know each other in order to be able to succeed and perform at their best. You will do better with a “bad” dog you know rather than a “good” dog you are not familiar with. Maybe the dog you thought was not good turns out to be great under the race.
- Use the race to acquire knowledge, experience, ideas and inspiration (also from others) and to become a better musher. Ensure that you come early enough before the musher meeting and that you also stay for the banquet and the social gatherings. You will have deserved it after your first successful long distance race!
Good luck with your race preparations!