Dogs running in to Kirkenes, halfway in the 1,200 km race across the Finnmark plateau. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Europe's top-notch dogsled race traverses Finnmark in changing climate

Wet snow, windy and +1°C for the first mushers arriving at check-point Kirkenes on Tuesday.
March 10, 2020

Wet snow, windy and +1°C for the first mushers arriving at check-point Kirkenes on Tuesday.

Tired, but happy: The sled-dogs are over halfway when taking a break in Kirkenes. The 1,200 kilometers Finnmarksløpet starts in Alta, crosses the Finnmark plateau, follows the Norwegian, Russian border in the Pasvik valley before turning westbound again back to Alta.

Famous for being Europe’s longest dog-sled race, the mushers some years experiences extreme biting colds down to -40°C. Not so this year as Monday and Tuesday have seen temperatures above freezing.

That is not necessarily good news for the dogs who face wet snow, causing icy tracks, harder to run.

Photo: Thomas Nilsen

34 mushers from five countries participate in 2020. Norway’s Steinar Kristensen was first to reach check-point Kirkenes Tuesday morning, followed by Lasse Austgarden, Kristian Walseth and Kristoffer Halvorsen. Petter Karlsson from Sweden, winner of the race in 2018, arrived to Kirkenes as number five.

 The Finnmark race takes place simultaneously as the Iditarod race in Alaska.

Additional to the 1,200 km (745 miles) race across Finnmark, the race also includes a shorter distance of 580 km and a junior class (age 14 to 18) of 200 km.

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The first mushers in the longest race are expected to be back in Alta on Friday.

Check-point Kirkenes is halfway on Finnmarksløpet. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

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