HUSKIES.CZ, Jana Henychová, Horní Maxov 176, Josefův Důl, 468 44, CZ, tel.: +420 724 045 565, e-mail:


The North of Europe is the symbol of vast free space rimmed by the frozen rivers, large spacious and icy lakes with the snow blown away, vast plains where there is nothing to bound you and your pack of sled dogs. When you want to weather the storm and stand up to obstacles, it is very necessary to learn to live and travel with dogs with the feeling of resignation to space, uncertainty where exactly you are and with the question if someone helps you. Is is also very important to have the ability to fight the unpleasant quirk of the arctic “Mrs. Winter” that has been ruling here strictly but fairly. She plays for those who are prepared. To have or not to have these abilities and skills makes a big difference between the mushers living in the North and those from the down south of Europe so called the Southrons.

Most of the competitions down in Europe, even the longest ones, are the stage races. The only reason for that is basically that you will never find there 500km trail in one piece that would be suitable for such a long race. Not only you won’t find the 500km trail but you will definitely not find even the 350km, 200km nor 100km unless you would have to make varieties, twists, turns and crossings in one place. The most usual solution is that you pass the stage and at the finish is waiting a car with the boxes for dogs, all necessary material and comfort for the musher who can enjoy a hot shower, cosy accommodation and evening entertainment in a restaurant. The next day you finish another stage on a well-prepared and well-marked trail checked by the organizators and the helpers and if you are discontent you can give a protest.

You will find the real long-distance races only in the Northern Europe or in Alaska. There is the start and then you will meet the others either at the finish or at the checkpoint but only after you have passed a couple of woeful days. According to the rules it is forbidden to accept any help from the helpers. The organizators deliver and store the spare material in signed bags at the certain checkpoints along the trail. You have nothing more than what you pack beforehand. It is only your personal matter how you organize your things, everything depends on your experience, foresight and your strategy. Another speciality of these long races is that you have to travel about the same time day and night too. No one waits here for the dawn or better weather. You have to move forward no matter if is daytime, night time, bright sky or gale. Most of the mushers stop only for serious reasons and also at the compulsory breaks that are there to provide enough rest for the dogs. It is undisputable that one cannot win such a long distance competition for the first time when he or she does not know the terrain and the specification of each of the trails.

Some of the most famous races of this type are IDITAROD ( , and YUKON QUEST ( in Alaska for 1000 miles, which is for 1800km. Northern Europe is smaller compared to Alaska and so the longest European race FINNMARKSLOPET ( ) is “only” for 1000km. For your imagination that is the distance from Prague to Venetia. You can easily drive this distance by a car in 10-15 hours depending on the traffic and your car speed. Your dogs though can get over such distance after a couple of days of strenuous run and it can easily happen that you just do not get over this distance just because you or your dogs cannot do it. For such distance it does not divide to “you” and “your dogs”. You are there together and it depends on each of you if you come to the finish. Here comes the truth about the quality and painstaking preparation, the physical condition, equipment and mostly the psychical resistance.

The dog-sledding competition FINNMARKSLOPET has been organized since 1981. In those years there have been a lot of changes in distance and categories. The race has been divided into the open and limited category in 1998 and has been valid to recent days. In the open category you make teams of 14 dogs for 1000km long trail and one of the conditions of applying is to finish such a race (400km and longer) in the past. In the limited category there start teams of 8 dogs for 500km long trail. Every “rookie” who believes his strength can apply for this race that starts and finishes in a Norwegian town Alta.

The North of Norway and Norway itself is quite inaccessible to the rest of the dogs´ world for its distance and difficult Norwegian legislature – necessary entering animal blood tests in the authorized veterinary laboratories. For this reason it becomes easier to get to the neighbouring Finland where there apply no such conditions.

The difficulty of the competition and its isolation are the two main reasons why mainly the local champions take part but in the last years we can start finding some competitors of the South on the final result lists too. If you read the profiles of the competitors on the websites of the race you will learn that most of them goes in this race just because it is tradition or because it is organized in their home place (noticeable advantage). Some of them even moved there (to get this advantage). The last reason is that it is something like the last test if the team is able to pass such a strenuous race, which is also the starting point leading to the dream race of all the mushers – the IDITAROD. FINNMARKSLOPET is the only European test and the only recommendation for mushers heading over the ocean with their teams.

The race itself in Norwegian Alta enjoys the great attention of the locals. The opening is followed by the impressive celebration in which are the competitors introduced. In the slowly prolongating frosty days this race means for most of the local inhabitants that the spring is coming. If we take in account that there aren’t many culture possibilities throughout the year then it is clear that after such a long and dark winter people need the reason to celebrate. There come myriad of spectators. It is nothing unusual that for the start of the race arrive even the members of the Norwegian royal family. This race became a remarkable Norwegian sports festival. The race has been started by the Her Majesty Norwegian princess in the last couple of years.

There are crowds of the visitors and spectators along the trail at its start but as the little town fades away in the distance the crowds become smaller and people slowly disappear. In the end the musher rides completely alone just with his/her dogs surrounded only by the icy and snowy countryside where the temperatures can reach the extremes.

The results of this year race (2007) suggest that the race for 500km seems to be a ladies matter.At the first three medal places were women. The first came a Norwegian Elisabeth Edland in the time of 2 days 7 hours and 47 minutes, followed by a Swede Katy Maier 1 hour 48 minutes slowlier time and then the third Norwegian Mona Kolstad with the lost of 2 hours 38 minutes. Isabelle Travadon, the famous French competitor came the 29th and got 18 hours and 11minutes. The interesting fact about her is that she rides with Siberian Husky and that at the first checkpoint she arrived as the 64th. At the 500km race this year started 69 mushers and 42 of them finished it.

At the 1000km race started 38 mushers and 29 of them finishedit. The winner was a Norwegian Tore Bergby with the time 5 days, 20 hours and 49 minutes. The last successful competitor who finish race for 1000 km was a Brittish Ben Livesey. He came to the finish 2 days, 2 hours and 35 minutes after the first one.

The everage age of competitors in this race is 40 years and the oldest participant was 65. Well, it is looks as enough time to do something in next years...


There came an idea. It´s time for challenge and big deeds...

The preparation for the race

2005 Created by Jana Henychová