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Marilyn Monza, Arctic Midnight Sun 2024 | Day 5

Marilyn Monza, Arctic Midnight Sun 2024 | Day 5

Jokkmokk. Sunrise at 0.00 – Sunset at 0.00

‘You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny nose and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows!’ Despite the deafening roar of the engines of 21 classic cars on the remote and silent roads of Lapland, this rather unusual song for early July resounded at 8.30 this morning, on the road section between Jokkmokk and the hydroelectric dam on the River Lule, when it was sung at the top of the lungs by the crews of the Arctic Midnight Sun Rally at the sight of the furry, horned quadrupeds that had invaded the roadway, some in procession, others in a sit-in, in obvious protest at the invasion of their territory by these supposed relatives engine-horses. And in no time at all, those who, until yesterday, had been fighting to the sound of the penalties, did not hesitate to park in triple file in the middle of the road, throwing road books, speed tables, trip meters and clocks onto the back seat, not caring if they made it to the start of regularity 1 on time to have a close encounter with Santa's helpers, on their way from Rovaniemi to the summer holidays, obviously immortalised by mobile phones with photos, videos and selfies. One Porsche even attempted a flying kilometre with two reindeer, the result of which was obviously manipulated, and another tried the approach by boasting of high recommendations from Australian kangaroos.

The situation was finally resolved when the media arrived, apparently alerted by the Elf Syndicate to report what had happened, and the four-wheeled bipeds followed the tulips back to RS 5.1, upsetting the schedule meticulously prepared by the Clerk of the Course, who had to add +10 minutes to the original times at the subsequent Time Control 5.2.

Collective madness? Too much champagne at sunset? (oops, you're right, there was no sunset, the next one will be on 7 July!) It was apparently one of the effects of the Arctic Circle's magnetic field distortions, the first signs of which appeared yesterday when satnavs suddenly went into night mode and then switched off for good, when WhatsApp became less reliable than a carrier pigeon in delivering messages, or when switching on the phone interrupted the charging of the computer. The only things that seemed unaffected were the midges, ubiquitous, unstoppable, and of such a size that I personally saw them deliver the flight plan to the Swedish Air Force.

And it must have been due to an electromagnetic disturbance that David and Dawn Hewitt in Car 2 Austin Healey missed a left turn and came to a halt at the Nattavaara railway crossing, the only sign of human habitation in an area so uninhabited that it makes the Far West look like Harrod's at Christmas...

It was with this strange 'aura' that the intrepid brigade (who also set off today in alphabetical order of car make) began the 505 kilometres to the northernmost destination of the entire journey, crossing the border into the second Midnight Sunshine country, accompanied by changing weather conditions worthy of Ireland. The Special Jury Award for Special Effects goes to the clouds: huge inviting clusters of candyfloss, ruffled piles of goose feathers, wave-like plumes of ocean skies. Best soundtrack: the roar of the Ford Falcon coming out of the woods like a predator, once again and for the last time, in the evergreen forests of Sweden.

To get back in touch with civilisation (are we really sure it wasn't more civilised in the wilderness?), the morning coffee halt took place at the ski resort of Gallivare (where I had the pleasure of staying centuries ago whilst training with the National cross-country ski Team, and where the most vivid memory is of the handsome blonde-haired, blue-eyed skier boyfriend), where we discovered that HERO-ERA Media Director Tony Jardine has a second business on foreign soil, Fat Tony's Restaurant.

A second regularity late in the morning finally brought us back to the busier E45, to reach the Main Time Control 5.3 at Lapand Tourism Office of Kiruna, Sweden's northern-most town. Because of mining, the ground is slowly sinking, so the town is in the process of moving some 40 buildings 3 km east. The rest will be demolished, as new houses are being built on the new spot: an intriguing project indeed! In a hurry on the move was also the Belgian crew in Car 3, which arrived at the MTC a minute and a half before it closed, with Guy parking on the pavement on the fly and Magda throwing herself out of the car just in time. Another side effect of the Arctic magnetic field...

The day's competition therefore came to an end at midday, leaving the crews free to explore the surroundings and reach the town of Narvik on the shores of the Ofotfjord on their own. The flat roads are no longer lined with the usual pine forests, and for the first time you can see high peaks covered in pristine snow, the green becomes that of mosses and lichens on granite rocks, the thousands of small pools become large lakes, the difference in altitude increases, everything becomes mammoth, like the Hälogaland suspension Bridge, the second longest bridge in Norway, built to shorten the distance between Narvik, Bjerkvik and Bjørnfjell.

If in the past the port of Narvik proved to be strategically valuable in the early years of World War II and the town became a focal point of the Norwegian Campaign, today the town is the best ski resort in Northern Norway and a renowned centre for all outdoor activities.

From the competitive point of view, there was only one change on the podium today: behind the Mortons in Car 18 and the Engelens in Car 20, third place went to Lejeune / Chevy in Car 7, who proved that they give their best in Regs instead of tests.

Whether tomorrow you're tucking your brim under the bonnet to fix the mechanical breakdowns of your Old Ladies (no, I'm not talking about your wives...), or you're off on some daring climbs or adventurous explorations, remember that ‘we were born to be wild: get your motor runnin, head out on the highway, lookin' for adventure and whatever comes our way’ (Mars Bonfire).


Narvik. Sunrise 0.00 – Sunset 0.00

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