In February I had the chance to drive my own reindeer sledge, and get the proper driver’s license.
Now I went to Finland (again!) to see reindeer races. I was searching for information online on this kind of events, and I found that there is a Reindeer Race Championship, held in Finnish Lapland, every year.
Even though the Sámi people are spread between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, different laws apply. Unlike Sweden and Norway, in Finland you don’t have to be a Sámi to own a reindeer (just because of that, I might move there!). So, this kind of events, is much more popular in Finland. Thus, they are intended for Finnish people, and all the information available (which is not much) comes in Finnish! Eventually, I could understand where the race was, and I decided to meet the racers before the race!
Whoever had the opportunity of riding/driving a reindeer, knows how frisky they can be. And they are much more stubborn than horses! These two make a nice combination for funny moments 🙂
The race takes around 2 minutes, and consists on a reindeer pulling a skiier. There are several categories and several stages, but only the 24 fastest reindeers go to the final in Inari, after 5 stages. Unlike the horses/dogs races, where people invest huge sums of money, and the animals are abused, the reindeer races are seen as a cultural event, to keep up the Sámi tradition.
For photographers, this is quite a nice event to take great shots, specially if they let you stay behind the finish line, like me 🙂