Inari Reindeer Championships Race
The Inari Reindeer Championships Race is almost here. The race is arranged for the 63rd time, and will take place on the ice of Lake Inari on the last weekend of this month, 27–29 March 2015. During the weekend, there will be competitions in several categories and in throwing the Sámi lasso. The weekend will culminate in the 2-kilometre race for the reindeer championship. The Reindeer Race has become one of the main events and meeting places in Inari in the late winter.
Photo: Sámi Museum Siida / Aino Jomppanen’s collection.
The Inari Reindeer Race, arranged by the Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association, is a colourful and exciting event that makes the village extremely alive during the last weekend of March. In addition to the race, you can enjoy the atmosphere of a market as stalls will be filled with handicrafts and reindeer delicacies and equipment.
The history of the Inari Reindeer Race goes back to the 1950s. At that time, herders raced with big-antlered reindeer that pulled a sleigh or sledge. The sleighs and sledges were gradually replaced by skis, although, in the race for the championship, the reindeer have always pulled their drivers on skis. The first championship race was arranged in Rovaniemi in 1950. The race was held in Inari for the first time in 1959, with Arto Sverloff from Sevettijärvi as the winner – with his reindeer Suikki.
In 1963, the Herders’ Association decided that the race would always be held in Inari. Lake Inari provides unique surroundings and conditions for this culmination of the reindeer racing season. The race has been cancelled only twice: in 1961, because the ice was covered by water, and, in 2001, because of an epidemic of hoof-and-mouth disease. From the first year on, the Reindeer Herders’ Association has been in charge of the arrangements of the race.
The pupils of the Inari School and their families have also contributed to the organising of the race in an important way: every year, they sell the entrance tickets and food to the audience in order to collect resources for their school camps. Thus, the whole community contributes to the event, reminiscing about it for a long time.
Every year, the Reindeer Race also attracts tourists to Inari, and what could be a better way to have a taste of the village than to visit the race. As the late winter sun sparkles on the snow, you can watch reindeer and feel the excitement of the race at the same time as you enjoy the gorgeous scenery of Lake Inari with the whirl of the market around you.
Welcome to Inari! Get a taste of the race atmosphere here: