Norwegian musher and journalist, 33-year-old Marit Beate Kasin has been using a Polaris RANGER 900 to train her 30 Alaskan huskies ahead of Europe’s longest dog sled race, Finnmarksløpet, which begins on Friday 9 March.
This year will mark the fourth consecutive year that Marit will compete in the iconic 1000 kilometer event, an event where Polaris plays a vital role, with event organisation staff using Polaris Snowmobiles and Off-Road vehicles. The winners of the 500 and 1000 class receive a Polaris Sportsman 570 as part of their prize package.
Marit first competed at Finnmarksløpet in 2015 and was awarded ‘Rookie of the Year’. The following year, she won the Norwegian Championship and in 2017 she won a silver medal. In March 2018 she heads to the event with 14 dogs, ready to run for victory. The most important thing, however, is not the finish line, but “the experience and growth we experience along the way.”
Marit started her kennel ‘Vinterdans’ – which translates to ‘Winter Dance’ – in 2008 with eight huskies and participated in shorter races of 100-400 kilometers. Today, it consists of 30 Alaskan huskies – 16 adults and the rest puppies and yearlings.
“Dogs have always been a huge part of my life. They were the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes as a newborn, and I have always had at least one dog. When I was seven years old, I read about Iditarod – the world’s longest sled dog race in Alaska. It made an impression on me and I never forgot about it. That’s how the dream came about. I decided that I wanted to compete in the world’s longest dog races.”
The Polaris RANGER forms a vital part of the training for the dogs – being used around five times a week as part of their regime.
“We build them up gradually, with short runs at slow pace in the beginning of the season. With a Polaris RANGER, I have plenty of space to have my equipment, water and dog food for our trips and I can easily control the training speed between 10-15 kph. The dogs are hooked up two and two together in a long gang line. The Alaskan husky is a very nice breed to work with; they are athletic, easy learning and social individuals who like to work in a pack. Every time I start the Polaris, the dogs begin to jump and bark. They love to run and know that the sound of engine means a new training trip.”
During the autumn season, the dogs are trained over 2000 kilometers with the Polaris RANGER before Marit switches to a sled when the snow arrives.
“One of the things I like about the RANGER is that it has steering wheel. It makes the many long trips less strenuous when I can sit relaxed in a seat and use foot pedals and steering wheel. It is also a very strong machine, which easily holds back and slows down 16 crazy huskies.”
Marit has been training intensively for the unique outdoor competition.
“It is long, desolate, extreme, tough and beautiful. A challenge that goes on day and night for a whole week, where men and women compete in the same class, against ourselves and nature. I’m very thankful to be able to experience together with my dogs. I have an incredible respect and fascination for the dogs’ performance and athletic potential. It’s all about the dogs. If I take good care of my four legged friends, they give everything in return; trust, love and performance.”
Finnmarksløpet starts on Friday 9 March and finishes on Saturday 17 March. For more information, visit the website: www.finnmarkslopet.no
To read more about Marit, her dogs and stories, she will be launching a new book ‘Vinterdans’. Alternatively, follow her on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/vinterdans
Polaris celebrated rolling the one-millionth RANGER machine off the production line in 2017 – 2018 marks two decades since the utility vehicle was introduced to the side-by-side line-up.
Photo credit: Dominik Fleischmann