Musher Mel triumphant in epic dog sled challenge

A MUSHER from Andover has become the first British woman to finish Norway’s toughest 400km dog sled race.

Mel Andrews has made history by becoming the first British female dog musher to cross the line after more than three days on the ice with her team of eight huskies.

She started the Femundlopet F400 race on Saturday morning and got to the first checkpoint after seven hours and 22 minutes, with an average speed of 12.2km/h.

Mel and her athletes took a mandatory rest before heading out into the unknown.

She pulled into the next checkpoint, Drevsjo, five hours and 34 minutes later and decided to drop one of her dogs Harry, who had a shoulder problem.

Mel left with seven motivated and happy dogs and after a sixhour run in strong winds, she reached Sovollen.

She took a long and well needed rest there and decided to drop Toivo, a fast leader dog.

With six dogs she set off in the early hours and to everyone’s surprise, she blew through Tynset, aiming for the last checkpoint of the race.

In Tolga, Mel and her dogs took the last mandatory rest and eight hours later both musher and dogs were ready and eager to leave.

With wagging tails, they left to climb a gruelling hill in the darkness, passing five teams.

Mel finished with her six healthy and excited dogs in Roros, and when asked how she felt, Mel smiled and said: “Excited and very proud of my athletes.”

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