Thanks to AFP for this article.
Grande Odyssee sled dog race kicks off in French Alps
AVORIAZ, France (AFP) Crowds gathered in the French ski resort of Avoriaz Sunday to watch 21 sled dog teams and their mushers kick off “La Grande Odyssee 2008”, a two-week race through the French and Swiss Alps.
Almost 300 dogs in teams from nine countries are taking part in this year’s race, considered on a par with Alaska’s Iditarod sled dog race and a major test of technique and endurance.
It covers over 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) of tracks through the Savoie-Mont-Blanc region, passing through 20 French resorts and four Swiss ones in altitudes that vary by up to 25,000 metres (80,000 feet).
“It’s a physical test of endurance. Often, the musher has to run alongside his dog team when going uphill,” said French explorer Nicolas Vanier, the organiser of the race, which is this year in its fourth edition.
“Specific preparation is required to be competitive on this race,” added Emil Inauen, 35, a Swiss mountaineer and musher who began training for Le Grande Odysee in August.