Scrappy stray finishes hundred mile journey to come home to new family

Arthur the dog followed the Swedish team through the final stages of the 430-mile Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador

Click to follow

A scrappy South American stray dog has finally come home after being adopted by one of the Swedish marathon runners he accompanied for hundreds of miles.

Arthur the dog attached himself to the Swedish four-man team racing through the Ecuadorian rainforest after Mikael Lindnord noticed the dog hungrily eyeing the competitors’ rations.

Taking pity on the bedraggled stray, team captain Lindnord fed the animal a meatball.

“I had just opened a food pack when I saw a scruffy, miserable dog in the corner of my eye. I thought he was hungry and gave him a meatball. Then I thought no more of it,” he said to The Times.

But as the team, who also included Simon Niemi, Staffan Bjorklund and Karen Lundgren, stood up to continue, so too did the dog.

Attaching himself to the group, Arthur accompanied them through the final stages of the 430-mile Adventure Racing World Championship, the determined animal never let his new companions out of his sight – even through the toughest conditions.

At one point, after organisers warned the dog was too exhausted to continue and was endangering itself and the athletes, the group climbed into their kayaks to leave Arthur (as he had been named by this point) starting a 36-mile coastal kayaking stretch of their challenge.

With darkness having fallen, the team and spectators could just make out the dog frantically continuing to paddle behind the departing group, having dived in to the water as they left.

Lindnord, unable to bear the sight of Arthur’s desperate swimming, pulled the dog aboard to the cheers of the crowd and cemented the animal’s position as official team mascot.

(Krister Göransson/Peak Performance)

“He was kind of in the way during the whole paddle and we had to find different paddling techniques to not kick him off,” Lindnord said. “A few times he jumped into the water and took a swim, and then he crawled back up again and was freezing so he got to wear our jackets.”

“One time we got quite close to land and he jumped off and swam to the shore, and we thought that was the last we were going to see from him. But he ran on the road for a bit and then he swam back to us.”

Sticking with them for the final six days of the journey, during which they had to take special breaks when it became clear the dog couldn’t go on, by the time they crossed the finish line together Arthur was in bad shape.

Lindnord took Arthur to a vet in the Ecuadorean capital Quinto, but, feeling that he couldn’t just abandon the animal, arranged for him to fly home with the rest of the team to Sweden.

Lindnord with Arthur (Krister Göransson/Peak Performance)

After a gruelling period when it seemed Arthur’s papers wouldn’t be ready in time for the flight, earlier today the lucky hound touched down in Sweden and was met by his new family.

Lindnord, whose teamed eventually finished twelfth out of 50 teams to enter the race, said: “I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship. Instead, I got a new friend”.