HUSKIES.CZ, Jana Henychová, Horní Maxov 176, Josefův Důl, 468 44, CZ, tel.: +420 724 045 565, e-mail:




A famous Czech musher Jana Henychova and her Siberian Husky sled dogs achieved a really unique success. She is the first Czech women in history to take a part in an extreme 500km sled dog race in Norway Finnmarkslopet. Jana and her eight dogs set on the trail in a Norwegian town Alta on 8 March and safe and sound they all crossed the finish line on 12 March - in 3 days, 20 hours and 6 minutes. Only 32 competitors out of 58 entering the race finished it. Jana Henychova on the 24th place was one of them.

/ Czech Press Agency/





There are five or may be ten years of hard work, endless training, pain and effort behind this short announcement of the Czech Press Agency. The very first thought that I could try an adventure of this scale came to me when my B-litter of puppies was born in 2003. I kept four of them and there came the temptation that with such dogs in my team I could do something great. Taking this decision I sacrificed everything considered normal: a partner, a prospect of a family, a “proper” job… Looking back I declare: No regrets, it was worth is it!

As time went, the puppies grew up and more young ones were born. Suddenly I reached the point of decision: I have got enough good dogs for this race, I pulled all my courage together and sent my application to take a part in Finnmarkslopet 2008. A real breaking point was getting in touch with Johanne Sundby who found me somewhere on the internet and contacted me. Where she found me remains a secret to me, but it was probably meant to happen… Our discussions followed by my visit to a seminar in Hadakal sled dog club and training consultations and support from Geir Wiik suddenly made my plan look much more realistic.

The training itself started in August last year. The dogs run and run and before the actual race had over 2000 km in their paws. I started training all twenty dogs, then I chose fourteen to come to Norway with me and finally I selected the best eight for the racing team. We arrived to Alta a month before the race at the beginning of February. We travelled through Poland, Baltic States and Finnland to Utsjok. We followed the trail of the race from Utsjok to Alta. We arrived to Alta after a 5 day and 3500 km long journey.

Everything felt strange in Alta and we felt like total strangers there. Everything was different, unfamiliar and we didnt know a soul. Arnt Holger Jensen, one of the few people in Alta who own and love Siberian Huskies, soon became the most important person for me. As bizzare as it sounds, he is the one and only in Alta, proud of his pure-breed dogs who seem to be lost amongst all those Alaskans - just like a rare specimen. It was very kind and obliging of him to support me and my team with such determination to get through the race to the finish line.

However he was not the only one. I had a great supporter in another Siberian Husky lover Hans-Christian Orjeatad from Oslo. He organized meat supply for my dogs from a comp. VOM og Hundemat. I collected the meat at Rodger Dahls. Rodger, one of the most famous mushers in Europe, told me how to make portions of meat and taught me a lot of almost life-saving things about feeding the dogs during the race. His ears must have been ringing almost constantly when I was on the trail as I remembered his words dozens of times. I am convinced that without all that meat and information I would have hardly finished the race!!! I have to admit that my beloved doggies put a lot of weight on during our stay in Norway. ?

We arrived to Alta one month before the race, so we had enough time to acclimatize and get used to the local conditions, very different to what we knew from our homeland. Training in the Czech Republic is mostly about zigzagging forest trails, passing houses, crossing roads, bending our dogs in sharp turns. And there was Norway… A vast flat plateau, where you see neither its end nor its beginning, just blue colour. I expected something different. The landscape took me by surprise so as the snow did – being so different then the snow I know and am used to. The Czech snow is soft, fluffy and smooth just like a feather duvet. The Norwegian snow is rough, powdery and it hurts and wears down the dogs paws. I had to buy booties for all my dogs and I spent a lot of time learning how to use them properly.

The time was ticking and our Day D was getting closer and closer…

We get to the start as the very first. It needs a certain amount of skills and enough space to manoeuvre the car and the 5m trailer. Other competitors – mushers - start slowly coming here as well. The frantic mummery starts right here. The time flies and everything is getting inevitably close and real. I have butterflies in my stomach and my whole body trembles with an inner feeling of desperation. Thousand times repeated rutine takes over and I do all I have to do on an auto-pilot. I am putting on the dogs´ harnesses, their booties, and we begin to harness the sled. Finally the helpers in their yellow waistcoats come and lead us to the starting line. The starting corridor is full of lined up dogsleds as every minute one competitor after another crosses the starting line. The air vibrates with maddening noise of barking dogs, loud music and the speaker’s stream of words from the loud speakers topped up with a ramble from a passing helicopter… And here I am at the start. I feel a heartbreaking cry of desperation deep inside my soul that cannot be seen. The last minute before the start... And here comes THREE, TWO, ONE and GO!!! The dogs shoot out as bullets and we are almost flying through the corridor surrounded by hundreds of people. Everyone shouts and waves. It is mad. I wave too and my heart is beating as strong as a bell. Going through the start here is the ultimate life experience!

I enter the race with an incredibly heavy sled. Nobody cares how heavy it is, what you carry with you is what matters. The sled is full of the compulsory equipment: dog food, food for the musher, spare clothes, a sleeping bag, a stove, spare dog booties, compasses, the complete set of maps with marked trail, a long knife or an axe, a pot for boiling water, a veterinary book and an emergency signal flare. we are on 42nd minut

The sled is full as it can be with almost nothing else to fit in and it is almost impossible to lift it. Franta Chlan´s sled slides greatly and I feel how smoothly we move forward.

It is all quiet at last. The trail goes on a frozen river, mile after mile, on and on. How long is five hundred kilometers? No, I must not think like that!!! We are heading to Jotka now. It is 53 km and another 88 km to Skoganvaare. From Skoganvaare the trail leads us to Levajok settlement on the side of the mountains. Then we descend to a river which makes a natural border between Norway and Finland. This part of the race is 88 km long. Now on the trail follows the river for the next 86 km and it will take us to Karasjok. It´s only 20 km from Karasjok to Jergul then, but we will have to climb from the river to the upper plateau, cross it and descend back to the river and add another 69 km. The trail follows the river from Jergul to Jotka, then it slowly goes up on the frozen steams and lakes and to a great lake Iesajarvi. Passing the lake and a small mountain ridge we will get back to the 80th kilometer to Jotka and then back to Alta following the same 53 km long route.

It starts to get dark at about 6PM. A vast blueish slightly undulating plain is all I can see as far as I can see. As the daylight fades I see nothing else but the yellow beam of my headlamp and my dogs´ butts rocking. This view is really and truly the most important. I have to check everyone is alright and healthy. That is crucial, so I check and check again. It´s all unpenetrably black around the headlight beam and I suddenly feel like being back at home, in the Jizera mountains. I clearly sense the tall spruces standing around in the dark protecting me. I am thinking about this illusory effect. I shoot the headlight aside twice and suddenly I feel the black night´s emptiness and desolation. I also feel like standing on the edge of a cliff falling deep into darkness. Quickly I shoot the light back at the dogs and build a vision of a trail taking me through the dark forrest in my head.

I look at my watch to check the time and mileage. I have a great feeling after getting through Jotka that it is only 88km now. As we make our way formard I start to feel that it is all going fine, but we could already be there. I check my technology just to find out that we still have about 40 km more to go. I sit in a snow hole and the dogs are having a rest. It´s dark all around me. Just a thought: Is it possible to give up the race here? There are no roads here and the first civilization is in those 40km. I learnt at the pre-start seminar that they start looking for a lost competitor 24 hours after the last contact. The thought of waiting here for a day before somebody rescues me makes me get the dogs up and off we go again.

We are still going inside of a black tunnel. Good that I have the GPS with the trail marked. I can clearly see my position, the display also shows me various little lakes and streams… In reality I see none of it. All I can feel is a deep powdery snow crushing under my feet. I zoom up and down, but soon I give up. My last distance info says that we only moved 500m forward! I help my dogs to shove the sled and immerse back into my thoughts. We go on and on.

We take a break every two hours to check the dogs and arrange back their booties. It is their snack time too. I carefully scan that everyone eats. Who eats, goes and is at ease… Who doesn’t eat gets a ride in the sled bag to rest for a while. We are moving steadily and we reach Skoganvaare at 01.30AM.

Skoganvaare: one stake out next to another marked with numbers. A lot of mushers have already gone or are just leaving when I get here.

I make the dogs beds from straw at the check points. Each competitor can use one pile of straw. I prepare drinks for the dogs and make their hot main course. In a moment they snuggle down into the straw. I massage them using Algyval ointment. I dress each dog into a warm outfit so their muscles could have a rest as well. No one protests. I wrap them all into blankets and then no one turns a hair and sleeps.

I wake up after three hours of sleep and it´s morning already. I see that we are neither first not last. It freezes, the temperature is below zero, the sun is shining and the right positive thoughts are taking over my mind. It is only 88 km, just over the hill, so we should be there in a while.
The truth is somehow different. After a fairytail start with a snow covered countryside bathing in the sunhine, the trail starts to rise steeply along a side of the mountains. A strong wind starts blowing. The blasts of wind are whipping us with an incredible speed and force. I put my glasses on and tighten all the covers around my face and head. Running through such wind is not new for me, I am not afraid of it and I know that the dogs do not mind it either. It is important to follow the navigation poles and not to let the dogs be blown away from the trail. I learned later that a musher from Wales had turned back at this point thinking that it wasn´t possible to pass through such a gale. .. I think, he must have been there when the wind blew even more…Never mind, worse moments are to come… We get over the hill and no one’s footsteps are to be seen in the deep snow. We must find our way forward by ourselves again. The poles only show the direction but do not say where the hard and ridden trail is. When the leader dogs step off the trail, they sink up to their ears in a deep snow. Danny lies down in a while with ‘I am fed to to look for something all the time’ look on his face. He can´t see the trail. I am trying other adepts from the back rows but they don´t seem to understand what I want them to do. The second we stop, the dogs immediately start to dig their dens in the snow ready to fall asleep. I take over the leadership and pull the dogs myself. It´s getting dark and the very last thing I want is to get trapped here overnight. We come across a ski doo scooter trail. The dogs perk up and happily follow my cry: “Let’s get out of here, guys!” they start running merrily in the luxuriously prepared trial.
Levajok. We arrive after a little navigation problem. We did 88km in 12 hours. I decide to let the dogs have a rest for as long as possible. I need a good sleep too. Those ones who know say, that we have got through the worst. It should be easier now on. We follow an amazing frozen river trail till we reach Karasjok.
It gets warmer to only minus 1C. The temperature dropped down to minus 43,6C in 2006. I am gratefull for gentle minus 1C.
We move on towards Jergul. We set on our way at 1AM. The trail rises to an upper plateau and here comes the dawn. Everything seems to be in a blue haze. The miniature birches peep out from the haze. There are only various shades of white and blue in front of us. I can’t tell where the horizon blends with the sky. It is like a white-blue marinade. Suddenly I hear voices around me. As if somebody is laughing. I feel dizzy from the lack of sleep. What is it? I stop the dogs and listen carefully. It´s calm again. The sound comes and goes. What is it? I remember Arnt´s stories about snow elves and Trolls. I realise how easily one can start believing all the stories and legends here. I am a smart realistic woman and I have to smile at my imagination. But if a Troll appeared in front of right now, I woulndn´t be surprised…
We are riding through the blue-white haze. I watch the never-changing countryside around me.
It really is exactly how the experienced mushers had described it to me before the race. Dogs, that are cared for properly, get through this race easily and without big problems. Problems stick with the humans. It is them who don´t finish the race. It is mainly the people who cannot persuade their minds anymore that the end comes soon.

As I say, the bigest psychological support for me is my GPS navigation with the marked trail. I always know exactly where I am and how much is left. There is the estimated arrival time too. It has to be maddening to stand somewhere in the darkness, stuck in a deep snow not knowing how fast I am moving forward or how long I have to carry on for. I am sure I would feel really bad without this psychological help.

We relax for nine hours In Jergul. Surprisingly the dogs are in a very good shape. They eat, drink and set on the trail with at least some enthusiasm. Leaving Jergul we could feel the temperature dropping again. The dogs start to run slowly but with the coming dark they fly like during a sprint competition. We feel a hard trail under our feet for the first during the whole race. We have run in “snow-sand” untill now. The dogs run fast and I believe they smell a reindeer or other animals because to run like this after 368 km is amazing. I tighten the rope around my hand even more – I don´t want them to loose me here. Everything looks promising. We go under a bridge where we were taking pictures of the river while training here one month ago and we rush to the Ieshajarvi lake. The trail winds on frozen streams and lakes - higher and higher. We are back in the darkness again. A light aurora borealis can be seen in the distance. Just a touch of it, nothing special, we have seen a better one ?.

We come to a place where we turned around during training here. Becky (my leader) and I remember this place very well. I know that we are going up a little hill now and then down and down to a lake. And there will be Jotka. We know our way from Jotka…
I know I can´t stop because I would not make the dogs get up anymore. We have to go and finish it…
Just behind Jotka we cross a road in a place where Zdena (my doghandler) used to wait for us with our car during the training. Becky is turning back to me and I can see she feels betrayed that I make her go further up the hill. Becky, I promise, you have a place on my sofa reserved till the end of your life! I promise!!! We climb the hill. The rest of the trail gently descends to Alta. I hand out the last snacks to the dogs. But I also have to go to “toilet”. Before I take everything off and put all the electronics back on I find out that the dogs are fast asleep. I will always recall this moment as a moment of a true crisis. I drag all of them behind me to make them get up and move on. It is down the hill and we very slowly move on. I control the speed of the sled. I do hope they start running…

Yet again I feel dizzy from the lack of sleep and tiredness. I have been riding all night and it´s getting bright now. I am standing on the sled tightened to it to make sure that I don´t fall off. I still have to keep an eye on the dogs. When I concentrate and focus my eyes only into one place I almost fall unconscious. What do I do now? I can´t I stop and sleep here, such a short way to the finish!! I put my hand into a pocket and fill my mouth with everything I can find in a subconscious movement. It works!!! When the mouth moves, the eyes do not shut!!! I keep stuffing myself with chocolate, dry fruit and glucose tablets till I am wide awake. The temperature is just about zero. When it was below zero, the dry fruit was crunching, now it´s chewy.

It took the dogs some time to start running, but we continue in our standard speed in a while. The mood in the team improves a lot as we get into some trees. A shimering cloud covers Alta as the sun rises. We still have about about 40km to go. We are going slightly up among trees, not just on the vast plains and I can see the first log cabins. My little hunters start hunting again. Go on, we MUST NOT stop!
We are coming to a river and we already know it here. We pass the Ice Hotel, Rodger’s place where I used to collect stones and where we were filming with a tripod. But who is it peering at us from behind that bush? There are two elks standing there staring at us. It is so close now…

After a long zigzagging we reach the first houses and we get to the main road. Of course, Becky pulls the sled from the snowy sidewalk onto the tarmac road and my eight crazy dogs dragg me behind without any control what so ever. There is a lady with two little dogs standing aside at a little fence. My hunters put on a higher gear. We fly by the doggies and… I can see the finishing line! We are here at last… It is such an incredible relieve. This really is the end. How many kilometres have we done? 500? Not possible!!! We have done it!!!

The dogs are lying down getting their much deserved snacks. I accept congratulations, it is too early and everyone is sleepy. Next time I will get the timing right!

We have done: altogether 501km in 57h 39min. We spent 33h 58min resting. Our total time: 3days 20hours 06min. Result servise

32 mushers out of 58 (from 10 European countries) entering the race finshed it. Our team came 24th. I started with eight dogs and finished the race with all of them! I brought them up since they were puppies and six of them come from my own breed.



No one is interested if you have pure-breed dogs or not in this race. Everyone starts together. But people know… Just finishing the race is credited by respectable breeders. The teams of pure breeds seem to be rather unique, something like a memory of the good old times. No one who breeds the Alaskans can understand how others can race with Siberian Huskies or Malamutes.

Personally I am very proud to finish the race and would like to pay a compliment to all Siberian Huskies. The fantastic and wonderful animals that can captivate your heart and change your life for good.


I have 24 dogs now. It is sad to see your four-legged friends age. It takes two or three years to bring up a dog and teach it something. When it is about eight years old you see the old age coming and the dogs unwillingness to keep up with the young energetic dogs.
You need at least 8 dogs to build a good team for 500 km long race. You need 14 dogs for 1000 km race. I believe I have a chance to prepare 14 of my dogs for the next year 1000 km. Then I will have more pensioners. I have about three good years ahead of me and I should be able to go to the big races. Then we will retire, sit back and tell stories about how good we used to be. My dogs are my friends, my family and therefore they will stay and live with me till their last days. I really do not plan having more dogs. I have different plans. When we come to the age of retirement I will write a book about my dogs. But now it is time to fight some more…

My plan is to try the 1000 km race next year. With this year experience, I know the dogs can do it. It is possible to prepare dogs well for such a race even in my homeland – the Czech Republic. They need good quality training, diet and care. I will be the first Czech person to stand at the start of the thousand kilometre race. If I make those 1000 km I will be one of the few mushers from the continental Europe who did it. I would also be the first not-Norwegian women who succeeded. If I do the 500 km again next year, I know, we will not be much faster. So, it is time to do 1000 km now! To prepare and train the dogs and organize everything will be a success itself. What I know for sure that just to stand on the starting line side by side with the best mushers in the world will be a great honour for me!!!
I spent a month in Alta. I left it as a place of my heart full of new friends. I left a place where I want to come back again…

I would like to send my biggest THANK YOU to all my helpers and all my new friends from Norway who were very supportive and helpful to make my dream come true. Thank you very much!!!


2005 Created by Jana Henychová