In Junosuando, a village located on the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland, there’s a statue of Leonhard Seppala. He’s one of the world’s most famous mushers. This is the story about Leonhard himself, his dog Togo, and what became known as “The Great Race of Mercy”.
On February 2, 1925, the Norwegian Gunnar Kaasen enters the town Nome as a hero with his dog sled team and his lead dog Balto. He delivers ten kilos of vaccine to a town affected by the deadly epidemic diphtheria. Kaasen’s arrival marks the end of a week-long story in the world press, about a six-day dog sled relay to “the end of the world”. Gunnar Kaasen and his dog Balto are the heroes of the event, those who are associated with the success. Balto even gets a statue in Central Park in New York, and Kaasen himself travels around on an exhibition tour for several years. But to other mushers and the general public, there were other, unsung, heroes: they were called Leonhard and Togo and came from the north. They made an extraordinary and heroic effort under terribly harsh weather conditions. Altogether, the two of them and their team of dogs, travelled for more than 400 kilometres through Alaska, through blizzards and cold, to save the people of their hometown.