Dog Sledding Events on the premises of local communities – people, dogs, and nature?

By Kari Jæger

In many places there has been a shift in tourism from before COVID-19, in how avoiding too much tourism, to how re-starting tourism with COVID-19 would be possible (Jóhannesson et al., 2022). It has been both a global and local discussion, on what the impacts on tourism would be in the long run. For many, the crisis that is brought to tourism, has also offered opportunities to re-consider tourism development in the Arctic, an opportunity, which also goes for the event’s future role.

The two Norwegian dogsledding events investigated here are Femundløpet, that was started in 1990 at Røros, and Finnmarksløpet, that was started in Alta in 1981. These events are both created through networks internal in the dogsledding societies in Norway, and through the local communities the events are located and staged. Those involved in the core activities in Femundløpet and Finnmarksløpet include dogsled drivers - both national and international, locals and visitors, their handlers, and volunteers.

Femundløpet, Røros 2022
These two events are also depending on administration staff for the two events, including people from the local societies they are part of, and visiting tourists working as volunteers. The visiting people that through the years have been participating in different roles in the two events, have in many ways, through their social connections with the local people, influenced on the development of the events, and the societies they have become part of.
Finnmarksløpet - Roadcrossing on Aronnes in Alta
In Norway, dog sledding has through the years been important in different ways: in Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, as sled dog ambulances, recreational mushing, and sled dog racing (Knudsen, 2019). The willingness to participate in today’s dogsledding races has for many started with an interest in dogsledding, where the dogs become journey friends and transport power, depending on, and being part of, nature. Events such as Femundløpet and Finnmarksløpet that are staged in rural cities and nature landscapes are creating new platforms and networks in the cities and villages, in the nature venue, through a togetherness with dog mushers, handlers, volunteers and local societies (Richards & Jarman, (2021).


Fieldwork dogsledding events

Last winter the first part of the fieldwork was conducted in February and March 2022, related to the two dogsledding events, Femundløpet at Røros, and Finnmarksløpet in Alta. A second part of fieldwork will be conducted, related to the two dogsledding events in February and March 2023. The aim of the study is to better understand how the two events have been influencing, and are being influenced related to the participants, their role in the local societies, local culture, the dogs, and within the use of rural nature landscapes.

Femundløpet, Røros 2022

The study will further have a special focus on the role the two dogsledding events have to the potential emerging of tourism through the ‘destinization of place’ (Granås, 2018). The relevance of research on sports events is pointed out by Herbold, Thees & Philipp (2020), describing the local community as a source of an authentic experience, for the sport tourists, with the importance of local engagement, in sustainable and long-term local development. This also related to identity-based development of new touristic products.

The research is still in a startup phase, and I aim to bring new knowledge related to the different areas mentioned above. The findings so far have been gathered through field conversations, observations, interviews, individual and group dialogues.



Granås, B. (2018). Destinizing Finnmark: Place making through dogsledding. Annals of Tourism Research. Vol. 72, pp. 48-57.

Herbold, V., Thees, H. and Philipp, J. (2020). The Host Community and Its Role in Sports Tourism—Exploring an Emerging Research Field. Chair of Tourism, Center for Entrepreneurship, Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, 85072 Eichstätt, Germany.

Jóhannesson G.T., Welling, J., Müller,D.K., Lundmark, L., Nilsson, R.O., Barre de la, S.,  Granås, B., Kvidal-Røvik, T., Rantala, O., Tervo-Kankare, K., Maher, P., (2022). Arctic Tourism in Times of Change Uncertain Futures – From Overtourism to Re-starting Tourism.

Quinn, B. and Ryan, T. (2018). Events, social connections, place identities and extended families, Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, Published online April 2018.

Richards, G. and Jarman, D. (2021). Events as platforms, networks, and communities. Event Management, Vol. 25, pp. 1-7.