Event Watch: La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc
Probably one of the most underrated events of the year, La Grande Odyssée in Les Gets is just one stage of a husky sledding competition series that takes place in resorts around the Mont Blanc area. The best mushers from across Europe come together with their dogs and battle it out for the title of the best musher over a two-week period.
La Grande Odyssée is inspired by world-famous dog sled races like the Yukon Quest and Iditarod and is the first event of its kind since the Alpirod, the first long distance dog sled race series in Europe. Dog sled racing is a truly unique, niche sport – especially outside North America – and while you can have a go at dog sledding in most Alpine resorts, the Grand Odyssée gives you a chance to really see it in its true form.
The tour, now in its 14th year, has two categories, mid-distance and long-distance, with the long distance category totting up a massive 600km of ground covered over all stages and 22,000m of elevation gain. The mid-distance course will see competitors travelling 400km with 13,000 vertical metres.
Les Gets is the second stage of the competition, after a small opening event in Samöens and the first stage in Morillon. The race starts in the centre of town in the late afternoon and continues into the evening, while competitors race against the clock and each other around the pistes of Les Gets in the dark. Although the race only takes place on one afternoon, the town really gets behind the event, and you’ll be able to find sled-themed animations in Les Gets all week. If you have a car, you can even follow the tour around the area; Samöens, Morillon and the third stage, Praz de Lys Sommand, are less than forty minutes away by car. It’s sure to provide a fun atmosphere and a unique perspective on this incredible sport!
La Grand Odyssée takes place from the 13th – 24th January and you can catch the action in Les Gets on the 15th January. The race will kick off around 4pm but there will be plenty of husky-themed goings on until then! There will also be plenty of great sports from which you can watch the race. As a side note – if you’re into animal welfare, regular health checks for the dogs are conducted by qualified vets throughout the tour, and some of the dogs even wear little boots to protect their feet!