La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc, the world's most technical dog sled race, will be crossing the Alps Jan. 10-20, 2010.
This race, in its fifth year, challenges 24 of the planet's best mushers and 350 professional athlete huskies. Over the course of the race, they will run 1000 kilometres together and climb 25,000 metres of ascending slopes.
This last point sets La Grande Odyssée apart from other dog sled races like the Iditarod or the Yukon Quest, which run over relatively flat terrain.
La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc lasts two weeks and is divided into 10 phases. From Jan. 10-13, the Portes du Soleil sees the teams depart from Avoriaz and arrive at Champéry. Then Jan. 14 and 15 is the Haute Savoy and Savoy liaison, featuring the Megève Challenge and a leg from Megève to Notre Dame de Bellecombe. Finally, the Haute Maurienne Vanoise leg Jan. 16-20, takes the teams from Val Cenis Lanslebourg to Val Cenis, passing through Bramans, Val Cenis Lanslevillard, Bonneval sur Arc, Bessans, Sardières, and Aussois.
This sports event is also "emblematic of those of us who feel we have a responsibility regarding the state of the planet that we will pass on to our children" according to the organisers.
Indeed, this ancestral activity, more than 5000 years old, is one of the world's oldest means of transportation and in complete respect for the environment. It is also the epitome of the complicity between man and animal; the musher's survival depends on the close relationship that he forges with his huskies.
During these two weeks, more than 50 side activities such as dog sledding initiations, giant tartiflettes, trapper villages, and themed exhibits will be held in the ski resorts.
Spectators can watch the event from various points along the race's itinerary that are accessible by skiing (Alpine or Nordic) and by snow-shoeing. Large screens will also be set up in the resorts so that guests may follow the race on TV.