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.
Russia is stepping up its military activity in the Arctic region. As part of this effort, Russian Armed Forces reopened an abandoned military base on the Kola Peninsula in the Russia city of Alakurtti recently, just 60 kilometres from the Finnish border.
The snow crab has the potential of becoming the next big food resource from the Barents Sea. But does the snow crab also contain bioactive components that can be used in medicine and health food? The scientists have just started to search for an answer to that question.
Permission is finally granted to reopen the only cross-border flight from Northern Russia to Tromsø in Norway. The airliner operating the route, however, needs economic support before boarding calls can be announced.