Early in Saturday morning, we woke up in Sodankylä, fed and hydrated the dogs, and packed our team into the van for the last 130 km. We reached the starting zone with just minutes to spare before registration was closed, but we were finally there. In the mushers meeting I listened carefully, and amongst other things, learned that the race organization had prepared for teams of volunteers to escort the dog teams from the parking area to starting line.
We got our dogs ready, got some help to get the sledge ready, prepared mentally and generally just waited for those nerve-wrecking last minutes to pass by. Which they did. And the escort team was nowhere to be seen. I lost track of time, and once the team arrived, we were in a hurry. We rushed to the starting line, just to miss our departure slot by 15 seconds or so, resulting in a two-minute penalty and being moved to the last position in our class.
Lesson learned: Musher is always responsible for her team to be on the starting line, on time. Regardless of any other arrangements, there may be.
We had to park the team next to the starting line and spend the next ten minutes watching other teams, one after another, start before us before finally, it was our turn (again). The dogs had built up considerable frustration by this time, and when I was just about to get started, I fell over, quickly recovered, and was finally on my way!
Click here to read part 6 – about assessing the fit of the dogs