Norway’s gruelling but often spectacular dogsled race around Finnmark in Northern Norway has been cancelled because of national restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the Corona virus. Disappointed participants claim that those traveling on winter holidays in Southern Norway face a much higher infection risk.
“In Southern Norway people are allowed to head off on winter holiday, go skiing at ski resorts and be much closer together, ” complained musher Trine Lyrek from Alta, who’s taken part in the race earlier and now planned to assist her daughter Hanna. She thinks it’s unnecessary to cancel the legendary race called Finnmarksløpet that was due to start March 12 with 94 mushers racing dogsleds over as many as 1,200 kilometers of Arctic tundra.
“I think this is terrible,” she told state broadcaster NRK. She claimed the dogsled race already had required Corona testing in advance, was “very controlled” and doesn’t involved large groups of people. “We stay in our own trailers and only see the other mushers for a maximum of 45 minutes when we care for our dogs,” she said, adding that social distancing was no problem in the Arctic.
Organizers nonetheless felt compelled to cancel this year’s race in order to comply with Norway’s strict national regulations. They made it clear that any large events that also involve participants from other countries are not recommended. It’s the first time since 1981 that no dogsleds will pass the finish line in Alta.