IT’S A DOG MEET DOG WORLD: Close canine competitors make for close companions as Trappers Trail dials it up to 11

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Janne Søreide said finishing behind her closest corporate competitor during the last fiscal quarter – and an upstart beating a longtime veteran at that – she wasn’t about to let her team stay remain in the doghouse.

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Janne Søreide watches a competitor cross the finish line during the two-day Trappers Trail race that ended Sunday. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

Søreide, along with fellow “boss” Tommy Jordbrudal and 10 ten dogs, proved fit for the long haul as they won the 80-kilometer open-class division of the 2019 Trappers Trail on Sunday. Their three-year-old company, Arctic Husky Travellers, is actually the smallish newcomer in real life compared to the adjacent kennels at the eight-year-old Green Dog Svalbard, but this was her 11th Trappers Trail while her rival was a rookie in this race.

“We had a challenge with Green Dog Svalbard, our neighbor. They won Hilmar Nois,” Søreide said, referring to a shorter race in February that’s a qualifier for Trappers Trail. “So we wanted to see if we could win this one.”

But it was hardly a bitterly cold rivalry, as sunny weather and bright dispositions always been more social than competitive even during the closest of finishes among the 22 dogsleds being hauled by a total of 126 dogs participating in the 11th annual race. Only three of those sleds completed the extra-long 80-kilometer course (others mushed 70 kilometers during the two-day race), so it was one of those contests where everyone won a proverbial trophy.

“I think this is a very nice social things, just being with the others and the dogs, not competing so much,” Søreide said.

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Paula Porcires Dahl and Synne Ønvik guide their dog team during the Trappers Trail race. Photo by Ragnhild Utne Bekkeheien.

Still, a chummy canine competition means a nibble of competitive spirit. Jordbrudal drove the sled during the first leg of the race to the overnight checkpoint at Semmelbu and Søreide was hoping she lived her to her husband’s performance after crossing the finish line near Huset.

“We were first yesterday,” she said. “I hope we didn’t mess it up terribly.”

Meanwhile, Marcel Starinsky said he had a bit of rough first day because of deep unpacked snow in Todalen soon after the start of the race at The University Centre in Svalbard, but felt he was rallying on the way back.

“I think we were close to the women today,” he said.

But not nearly close enough. Søreide and Jordbrudal finished in a total time of four hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds, while Starinsky’s solo time was 05:31:24.

As for the mushing aspect, Starinsky said he’s participated in several dogsled races elsewhere and what makes Trappers Trail distinctive is some of the more mountainous stretches.

“The steps down are difficult,” he said. “Uphill is the same.”

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Mushers near the summit of Longyearbreen after a long climb that’s considered to be the most difficult stretch of the two-day race. Photo by Ragnhild Utne Bekkeheien.

The hardest part for most participants is the final ascent on Longyearbreen just a few kilometers from the finish line. The pass is a popular spectator spot due to expansive views in all directions and because it’s chance to cheer when it’s most appreciated.

“It’s great to be at the pass because it’s over basically,” Søreide said.

For both corporate canine comrades participating in the race means a couple of days they’re not offering tours for their respective companies during the absolute peak of spring tourism season. But Søreide said the value of the experience is well worth the monetary loss.

“The dog is a lifestyle,” she said. “It’s not working for money.”

Other winners in this year’s race included Willy Martinsen winning the small-team ski/sled class in 06:27:43; Alexander Hovland the five-dog team class in 4:34:04; and Stefan Claes and Ingvild Vatn the eight-dog team class in 3:59:03.

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Emil Johnsen, 8, gets an escort out of the starting line during this year’s Trappers Trail. Photo by Sophie Condon.

Among the noteworthy other finishers was Emil Johnsen, 8, who as the youngest racer finished third in the five-dog team class with a time of 4:44:10, two spots higher and seven minutes faster than his finish in the same class a year ago.

The full results of this year’s race:

Ski & sled, 70 km
1. Willy Martinsen
2. Sigmund Stensvold
3. Arthur/Verona

Five-dog team, 70 km
1. Alexander Hovland
2. Margrete Keyser
3. Emil Johnsen
4. Gunn Beate Paasche
5. Kristin Haugland

Eight-dog team, 70 km
1. Stefan Claes/Ingvild Vatn
2. Johan Berger/Sofia Berger
3. Anja Wied
4. Linda Vassdal/Pål Remen
5. Tina Dahl
6. Hildegunn Brekke
7. Katja Baum/Torstein Kallelid
8. Paula Porcires Dahl/Synne Ønvik Stefanussen
9. Elena Potselueva
10. Gaute Hermansen

Open class, 80 km
1. Janne Søreide/Tommy Jordbrudal
2. Marcel Starinsky
3. Martin Eriksen/Kristin Wasahl

 

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