Musher Lars Monsen arrived to checkpoint Kirkenes just after 8 am Tuesday morning and was first out to the melting tracks again half an hour later.(Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Lars Monsen and his dogs had to cross in between puddles and slushy snow when approaching checkpoint Kirkenes early Tuesday morning. Europe’s longest sled dog race is about to melt away in the unseasonably warm weather.
54 mushers from seven different countries are these days crossing Finnmark county on the top of Europe from Alta to Kirkenes and returning to Alta, in total 1,000 kilometers. Another 73 mushers participate in the shorter 500 kilometer race.
Finnmarksløpet is second to Iditarot, crossing Alaska, the world’s most famous dog sled race. The two races take place simultaneously this year.
The first musher in Finnmarksløpet arrived at checkpoint Kirkenes late Monday evening. It is, however, Lars Monsen that is first out from Kirkenes after just half an hour break. Lars Monsen is one of Norway’s most famous adventurer known for his explorations and backpacking expeditions in harsh wilderness across the Barents Region and North America.
Normally, the racers have to cope with freezing cold across the inner part of Finnmark. Not so this year. Temperatures are above zero Celsius, some places up to 3 to 4 degrees Celsius, normally considered to be a good spring in early May so far north in Europe. To warm for sledge dogs some argue.
The two classes, the 8-dogs class and a 14-dogs class, have in total over 1,000 huskies that right now are running across the amazing nature wilderness from Alta in the west to the Norwegian, Finnish, Russian borderland in the east. The first racers are expected to break the finishing tape back in Alta before the weekend.
The Northern Fleet’s destroyer “Severomorsk” is heading home after a five month long mission to the Mediterranean. On the way, the vessel will be conducting drills in the Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea.
How come that the Barents and the Balkan regions have nearly the same average life expectancy, but their GDPs are dramatically different? BarentsObserver compares two border regions trying to find an answer.
Terrorism fears, with police and soldiers likely targets, is the reason for the special decision to allow Finnish Border Guards to be armed when on patrol in the normally relaxed town of Kirkenes in Norway’s northeastern corner.
The results of Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Finland show a clear, expected win by the opposition Centre Party. The party’s leader, 53-year-old millionaire Juha Sipilä from Oulu in northern Finland is poised to succeed Alexander Stubb as Finland’s next prime minister.
Both procurator’s office and regional Ministry of Justice have earlier cleared the environmental organization from suspected political activity, but since they failed to voluntarily sign up as foreign agent, the risk is a fine of 300,000 to 500,000 rubles.