Stefan Zahlten from Germany is the first athlete on foot to reach the MLAU finish line in Överkalix. Because of problems with his feet, last year Stefan attempted the 500 km race with a bike. After quite a few mechanical issues he had to admit defeat. So, it was really great to see him do so well this time in his preferred discipline. Even though he gave himself very little time to rest, he was strong all the way.
Not too far behind him we saw Paul Watkins from Australia arrive and taking 2nd rank on foot. Like Stefan, Paul looked very good all the way through.
Third place in the foot category went to Spaniard Maximo who, like all other remaining athletes, got caught in some pretty nasty weather. Snowfall and winds quickly deteriorated trail conditions. Our guides went out late at night to make the trails visible again and to check on how they all were doing. Maximo pushed through and arrived, exhausted but of course very happy at the Grand Arctic Resort finish line.
Next up were couple Karl and Harriet Shields. There finish was amazing because pretty much the instant they arrived, we got the most amazing northern lights. They were very happy and of course tired but overall really fine.
At this point in time, for James Mowbray, it was a race against the clock. James had been going slow but steady and would have almost certainly finished in time. However, the soft snow meant he had to use snowshoes and not being used to that, it slowed him down too much. We followed his tracker the last night and communicated with him as he worked hard all night to make progress. When it became obvious that he would miss the cut-off by several hours, in the morning, we meet him on the trail and gave him a ride back. Obviously, it’s never nice to DNF so close to the finish line but James was positive about it and focused on everything he really enjoyed over the last 10 days – which was a lot.
Congratulations to you all!
I will write my final race report tomorrow. If you have not discovered it for yourselves already, there is a ton of content about this year’s MLAU on our facebook and instagram pages – with many amazing videos and photos by our social media expert, Callum Jolliffe and Swedish Lapland filmer and photographer Ted Logart.