Dog sleds crossed the Norwegian – Russian border

Ketil Reitan. Photo: Arctic Barents Race 2010.

Monday April 6 was an historic day; racing dog sleds crossed the Norwegian – Russian border for the first time since before the cold war. In March 2010 the 3112 kilometers long Arctic Barents Race will run from Murmansk to Røros, as the longest dog sled race in the world, reports The Barents Observer.

Over the last weeks several dog sled races have been organised from Røros to Kirkenes, the town located near the Russian border. These have been test races for the full length Arctic Barents Race, which is to be held next year and will start in Murmansk and end in Røros. The race will last for approximately 25 days, covering 3112 kilometers in total and there will be 20 pre qualified sledges competing. It will be the longest dog sled race in the world ever held.

Border crossing

One of the main obstacles is to cross the Norwegian-Russian border. The final race of this year’s Arctic Barents Race was held in order to find out in which way this border crossing can be organised in the best possible way. Therefore the border crossing performed by the six participating dogs sleds in this year’s race, was merely symbolic and not as a part of the competition. Nonetheless, it was the first time since before the cold war that dog sleds crossed the border between Norway and Russia. For the race manager, Ketil Reitan, it was very important to see and prove that this could actually be done.

“We have been working for several weeks to organize this border crossing and it is fantastic to be standing here, finally ready to cross the border,” said Ketil Reitan before he started his symbolic border crossing race.

Over the last weeks 6 experienced mushers have been racing from Røros to Kirkenes, the town located near the Russian border. Photo: Arcticbarentsrace.ru

Two times Iditarod winner and the most famous Norwegian dog sled racer, Robert Sørlie, is part of this year’s test races. He has high hopes for the full length Arctic Barents Race in 2010.

“I do not think the dogs will have any problems in finishing such a long race. You would not believe the distance and the length of time these dogs can keep running. Still, the Arctic Barents Race will be something which has never been done before. It will be important to make the dogs rest as much as possible between each leg, in order to complete the 3112 kilometers,” says Sørlie.

Sørlie is in the lead of the test edition of ABR, and before the final 300 kilometers from Prirechny to Murmansk he has a six hour lead ahead of number two in the race. Tuesday morning the sledges will start from Prirechny, south of the border town Nikel, and go east towards Murmansk city. There will be four checkpoints for the dog sleds, before they arrive in Murmansk sometime on Saturday April 11.

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