The Icelandic Dog Sledding Club’s National Championships got off to a running start on Friday, with 60 dogs and their owners competing on a clear but icy day around Lake Mývatn in North Iceland, RÚV reports. The competition, which has been held since 2010, features races for children as well as adults, and will continue tomorrow, culminating with the crowning of this year’s Icelandic dog sledding champion.
“Yes, great conditions—as good as you could you could ask for,” remarked Hjördís Hilmarsdóttir, a competitor from Egilsstaðir in East Iceland. “And it’s such fun to be here together,” she continued, noting that the event attracts participants of all ages. “There are kids as young as seven years old, grandmas as old as 67, and everything in between.”
Young competitors are given the responsibility of steering and racing their own dogs, and are treated as serious competitors within the club. “This is me and my mom’s dog, but he isn’t my race dog” explained nine-year-old Aðalbjörg Haraldsdóttir from Hafnarfjörður in South Iceland, who says she has a racing dog of her own. She said it isn’t hard to control sled dogs in a race, either. “You just have to cheer them on!”
This is likely because sled dogs simply love what they do. “They love to run—they think it’s fun,” said María Björk Guðmundsdóttir from Akureyri in North Iceland. “They’re always willing to get in their harnesses and then they take off and it’s just the best. They think it’s so much fun!”
In addition to being an athletic event, the competition showcases these multifaceted animals, which in addition to being racing dogs, explained Hjördís, are also used for work around farms and for breeding. “They can do it all!”