Editor’s note: Adventure racing is a brutally tough endeavor, pushing athletes to the limits of endurance and mental dexterity, day after day, with little or no rest. And among the hardest are the world championships, held this year in Ecuador. This is a story of a stray dog who voluntarily joined one team.
UPDATE: Arthur has been adopted!
The first rule of adventure racing is that anything is possible. The story of Arthur the dog is a perfect example.
It all started when the Swedish Peak Performance Team captain Mikael Lindnord nonchalantly shared a meatball with a scruffy stray dog while preparing to embark on a 40 km jungle trek during the final stages of the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador.
A few kilometers into the trek, the team realized the dog was following them. It was an extremely strenuous hike through knee-high mud, but Arthur stuck with the team no matter what.
There were several times that they had to pull him out of the mud and as Mikael explains, “At one stage we had to take a break and the dog was totally wrecked. We opened two cans of food and let him eat, because he could find no food at all in the jungle.”
When they arrived at the next transition point teammate Simon Niemi was severely dehydrated and needed to receive medical attention. Arthur loyally stood guard and waited for the team to recover.
As the team prepared to embark on the final section of the race — a 59 km coastal kayak — race organizers warned against taking Arthur as it would be difficult and dangerous. The team respected this and started off, leaving Arthur on shore.
He refused to be left, though, and he started swimming after the team.
This was too heartbreaking to witness so Mikael quickly helped Arthur into the kayak, to the cheers and applause from the bystanders on shore.
Mikael explains that having Arthur along was fun, but not exactly easy. “He was kind of in the way during the whole paddle and we had to find different paddling techniques to not kick him off board. A few times he jumped into the water and took a swim, and then he crawled back up again and was freezing so he got to wear our jackets.”
“One time we got quite close to land and he jumped off and swam to the shore, and we thought that was the last we were gonna see from him. But he ran on the road for a bit and then he swam back to us.”
After racing for 6 days Team Peak Performance crossed the finish line with 5 members instead of 4 as the 12th top team in the world.
Mikael is now working with local authorities and pet experts in Sweden to bring Arthur home with them and have received great support from the public through a Paypal donation site and from their sponsors.
“Super excited about a phone call just minutes ago, Peak Performance steps in and does whatever it takes to get Arthur home,” the team posted on Facebook. “We will never give up!”