While the corona pandemic has put an end to most sporting and cultural events, we are happy to announce that the Femund race has been approved by the Norwegian Department of Health! The planning of next year’s race is now well underway.
As a part of the early preparations, a COVID-19 coordinator has been appointed to ensure the safety of our participants, volunteers and audience. General Manager Jon Anders Kokkvoll and the race’s COVID-19 coordinator, Gro Åsne Lohn, have created vulnerability assessments and procedures.
– We have received government approval. Our greatest fear is an outbreak during the race, and the easiest option would be to simply cancel the event. However, we also strongly feel that everyday life must continue, and with proper guidance from the Department of Health, we are confident that we can arrange a race while also ensuring the safety of everyone involved.
A wilderness race
– This will be a very different race – a race that many have requested and wished for. It will be an even more spectacular experience for the participants and the audience than ever before, says Kokkvoll.
Some of the changes we are making with regards to the pandemic include moving the start out of the city center. Participants will start the race from their own car at Moan and Gjettjønna. The F-650 and F-450 races will start Friday, while F-Junior and F-200 start Saturday.
– Moving the start out of the city center isn’t ideal for us, especially considering the long standing tradition of having the unique backdrop of Røros surrounding the start line, Kokkvoll continues.
Wilderness checkpoints only
The most significant change for the participants and their support teams is that next year’s race will only feature wilderness checkpoints. As the mushers leave Røros behind and enter the checkpoints, they will have to stay there to rest and eat alongside their dogs. The checkpoints will provide food, toilets and campfires.
– I’m sure there will be plenty of storytelling, gossip, and quite a few tall tales around the campfires, says Kokkvoll.
Start and finish for all classes are in Røros
This winter, all classes will have a start and finish in Røros, says Kokkvoll. The trail for F-Junior and F-200 will change and will go from Røros to Tolga via Tufsingdalen, and back to Røros.
– The amount of volunteers who have wanted to participate in recent years has increased. Next year, unfortunately, we are forced to optimize and reduce the need for volunteers. We are now working out a minimum and maximum amount of volunteers needed at each checkpoint. Similarly, we are planning out limited spectator areas near the arenas. Along the trail itself there will be plenty of room for spectators to make their own little camps, says Kokkvoll.
With regards to the pandemic, one of the greatest challenges next year is that most of our veterinarians are based in so-called “red” countries.
– We are still working out the details of the vet service. As next year’s race is tougher than ever, we have to ensure the health and safety of both people and dogs.
For the F-650, the biggest change to the trail will be that checkpoint Trysil will be moved up in to the mountains of Flendalen, and will be named Flendalen-Trysil. Flendalen is located 20 km north of Trysil.
The trail to Orkelbogen for F-450 and F-650 is moved further west and flattens out quite significantly, which means that the distance increases slightly, but at the same time becomes easier to run.
– We are now working on approval from the various municipalities, landlords and the county governor. F-Junior and F-200 will revert to the way it was three years ago, with a trail around Tufsingdalen and Tolga. We do this to ease the logistics for the participants and their support teams.
– We are also aware that the organization of the checkpoints means that the mushers will have to be more independent and rely less on external services. Checkpoints will also be divided by class, Kokkvoll says.
The various checkpoints will also have their own preventive measures that will have to be approved by the local health authorities.
Registration for next year’s race opens October 1st.
– Qrillpaws will be the same as last winter’s race, or even bigger. We will have a TV broadcast where we hope to cover all the classes as much as possible. We are currently working on the content and schedule for this broadcast. I do hope we will be able to broadcast on one of the Norwegian networks as well as the international broadcast. We had more than 13 million viewers this year, so I am hopeful we will land such a deal for the next race, says Kokkvoll. – Especially considering the positive responses we had from the TV2 broadcasts in 2017.
– 2020 became the year everyone had to use digital platforms to socialize and experience, and so it will be with Femundløpet, where we will focus even more on digital dissemination.