Femund Race ABC: How far can a sled dog run?

Author: Kjetil Svanemyr / Morten Haugseggen (Transl)     Photo: Kjersti M. Godin Mj√¶rum     Publish date: 30.01.13 14:47

Long distance sled dogs are the most enduring animals on the planet. They are built to be able to run extremely far at very high speeds.

This ability has been bred through generations. It is essentially a combination of several factors that make up this ability: a very high oxygen uptake, a very efficient way of running, the ability to absorb large amounts of nutrition compared to their body size and not least an amazing ability to withstand long lasting races in all kinds of weather conditions without becoming psyched out. Iditarod is the world's longest dog sled race with a trail stretching through 1800 kilometers of wilderness in Alaska. This is equivalent to the distance from Oslo to Rome. When the best dogs cross the finishing line in Nome, they seem totally unaffected despite the race having lasted for 8-9 days. The strongest of them could probably have turned right around and run the same distance back. They would most likely arrive in Anchorage one week laster, still in good shape. How far a sled dog can run is of course dependent on how fast it is running, how heavy a load it is pulling, what the snow conditions are like and how much rest it is getting. Earlier the rule of thumb was to let the dogs rest the same amount of time as they were running. This has changed along with the training methods and as the hours spent training have increased. As a result the best dogs now rest considerably less than before. When Sigrid Ekran won the Femundløpet race in 2010 she had a total of 46 hours running time. The total time spent resting was only 30 hours.