Norway’s long-distance dogsled race, Finnemarksløpet, is underway but especially challenging this year. Instead of the usual freezing temperatures, the weather is so warm that conditions are tough on the dogs and several teams are dropping out.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which covers the annual race live from Alta and beyond, reported that a dozen mushers had withdrawn from competition as of Monday afternoon. The lack of soft snow on the tracks hurts the dogs’ paws, while slushy conditions and ice wear down their muscles.
Ronny Frydenlund was among those massaging his dogs at a checkpoint, and and rubbing their paws with salve. “They have very sore muscles,” said another musher, Torkil Hansen, who dropped out of the 1,200-kilometer race at Tana. He said the snow on the tracks was “very heavy” and made it hard to maintain rhythm.
Unusually warm temperatures were also making it more comfortable for the dogs and mushers to race at night and rest during the day. The race runs from March 11-20.