The race is on in France’s Haute-Savoie region, as the first stage of the tenth annual Grande Odyssée is now underway. Nineteen mushers are competing in this year’s LGO, with four mushers racing for the mid-distance UMES Trophy as part of the first stage from Les Carroz to Flaine.
Today’s official start follows a frenetic night in which race managers had to reroute part of the course due to unseasonably warm temperatures. Such temperatures are getting to be par for the course (to use another sports metaphor) in sled dog racing and other winter sports around the globe. Some of the qualifying races for this year’s Iditarod in Alaska had to once again be cancelled thanks to similar spring-like temperatures. In addition to limiting snow on the ground, warm temperatures are particularly hard on huskies used to running in frigid arctic weather.
You can find a list of this year’s LGO mushers here.
Three mushers in particular are favored to win this year’s race:
Radek Havrda – A veteran from the Czech Republic,
the 40-year-old musher is the race’s only double champion,
winning in 2009 and 2012. Havrda has also finished
LGO in the top five in 2008, 2010, and 2013.
Daniel Juillaguet – The 46-year-old French veteran has finished
in the top ten of LGO in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, and 2006.
Thus far, he has finished every LGO he has entered. He came in sixth place in last year’s race.
Jean-Phillippe Pontier – Pontier has finished in third place in LGO in the past three years. The 40-year-old French veteran has finished in the top ten of LGO in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2006.