Petter Karlsson from Slussfors in Northern Sweden became the first non-Norwegian to win the gruelling long-distance dogsled race Finnmarksløpet in more than 26 years on Friday. The race is the longest in Europe, covering 1,070 kilometers over the Arctic tundra in Norway’s northernmost county of Finnmark.
Karlsson spent six days on the route that runs from Alta east to Kirkenes and back again, and he finished a full hour ahead of his nearest rival. Karlsson, a Swedish farmer who also runs a kennel and offers dogsledding for tourists, was ecstatic and gave most of the credit to his dogs. He had participated twice earlier in the race over Finnmark, ending 16th in 2014 and seventh last year.
Norwegian musher Marit Beate Kasin from Valdres claimed second place in the Finnmarksløpet 1000K and thus also became Norway’s new national champion. “I have worked, run, sung and danced to get the dogs to go,” Kasim exulted after crossing the finish line.
After nearly a week on the tundra, racing day and night, she told reporters that she now wanted “a quiet moment with the dogs, to tell them how proud I am of them, and then care for them and feed them, and then care for and feed myself as well, and get some sleep.”