Adventure racing is an extreme event, even by extreme sports standards. A team — usually made of three men and one woman — run, cycle, kayak in remote and dangerous parts of the planet for anything from three to eight days.
It’s hard for humans to compete, since teams endure extremes in temperature, altitude and sleeplessness. But one stray dog proved himself a trooper when he tagged along a Swedish team during the 2014 World Championships for adventure racers.
The Swedish team were four days into their projected 7-day race when they noticed a dog had wandered near them while they were eating a meal of meatballs on a summit in the jungle in Ecuador. Though the flea-bitten dog was covered in sores and admittedly smelly, they gave him some food.
That was enough to win the dog’s loyalty, and when they plunged into the deep jungle to continue their race, they realized the dog was following them. They traversed the difficult race trail, but the dog kept up — and the team, impressed with their new canine friend, continued to feed him.
Even when they fell behind because of an injured teammate, they kept the dog along with them, and even called him Arthur after the mythical king. Eventually they crossed the finish line — farther behind than what they wanted, but with a new member in tow.
After the race, team member Mikael Lindnord, was so impressed that he decided to keep Arthur and take him home back to Sweden. Even though they already had been through a lot together, it wasn’t a given — he had to petition both the governments of Sweden and Ecuador to bring the injured, sick dog back to Stockholm. It wasn’t until they arrived at the hospital that they got final permission, and at long last — Arthur was going home.
Arthur has come a long way from the jungle. He lives in Sweden with Mikael and his wife, and is even the subject of a book, published in 2016, about his journey from jungle to Sweden. Watch Arthur’s journey below, and see what it means to not give up — or leave anyone behind…