helmut-dietz/Musherzeitung-photo: Robert Sørlie, Norway - one of the main favourite mushers to win the IDITAROD 2014, says Joe Runyan.
Robert Sørlie: "No pain, no brain."
Robert has flown from Norway with his teams and has won two out of four Iditarods and has the best batting average in Iditarod history. Dean and I both assume his team is “super”, as reported by our Norwegian contacts. I would give Mitch Seavey (listed next) the respect he deserves as 2013 Champ and put him number one. Yet, for the small detail of 1 or 2, Dean and I agree that Sorlie is a game changer.
Yesterday, Tuesday, our Insider crew set up cameras at Tudor Track to interview and film 2011 Champ John Baker. When prompted, John agreed that Sorlie will impact the competition to the front. But, speaking for himself and others, believed that the front pack now understood his strategy and would probably not react early to his push to the front.
I called up Doug Swingley, the 4x champ, now retired, from Montana about Sorlie’s relentless race strategy. He pushes from the start of the race with long runs and predictable rests that do no allow luxury by his competitors. Stop to talk to a tourist or waste a minute in a checkpoint and Sorlie will say, “thank you for the minute, I hope you can get it back.” Doug says, ”No pain, no brain.”
This is a short cut way describing Sorlie’s strategy. He trains his dogs to a run and rest schedule and will stick to it on the race trail with predictable consistency.
He doesn’t change his schedule on the fly or react to other mushers. He is an island to himself. He has been racing all winter in training and does not have to think. Just do, do not think, is his mantra. “No pain, no brain.”
Often, in checkpoints, he can be seen sitting with his dogs, quite happy to explain the merits of his trail friends. He looks at his watch. He says something very quietly and unintelligible to his team, who stand up and shake straw from their coats. Then he is gone.