WATCH: You can't win this sled dog race, you can only lose

2019-01-26 20:57

Only half of the 100 competitors who braved one of Europe's toughest sled dog races, the Czech Long Trail, finished the competition which ended on Saturday.

"We had exactly 100 competitors, including 80 mushers and 20 skiers pulled by dogs and bikers," head organiser Pavel Kucera told AFP.

He added 12 mushers and three bikers had taken part in the five-stage 348-kilometre race with total elevation topping 9 000 metres.

The rest of the pack from 11 countries including Austria, Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands and Serbia competed on a 215-kilometre track with four stages and an elevation of 7 000 metres.

'Frost, blue skies and lovely night rides'

"We had an excellent start with frost, blue skies, lovely night rides. Now it's overcast and we've had some snowfall so we have experienced all kinds of conditions," Kucera said.

After several warm winters which forced the organisers to shorten the race or even replace the sleds with four-wheel training carts, Kucera said this year had "the best conditions since 2004".

"It had an impact on the mushers too - we have 50-percent 'mortality', meaning that half of the racers have retreated," said the man with a huge grey beard.

The race is called "Sedivackuv long" in Czech, named after Kucera's dog Sedivak, who strayed just before the first race in 1997 and was shot dead by a local man.

The winner gets a diploma - and can boast finishing the race, Kucera said.

"You're not doing this to win. In fact you can't win this race, you can only lose."

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