After delay in Nome, dog sled race is on in Russia
Inupiaq musher Chuck Schaeffer made it safely to Chukotka, Russia, last week with his teammates, both two- and four-legged for the annual Nadezhda-Hope Dog Sled Race.
The group of mushers and dogs that make up Team Beringia got weathered in in Nome, which cut out a day of rest and acclimation in Russia. The race started Saturday in Lorino, an indigenous, rural village in the province of Chukotka on the Chukchi Sea.
In an update on his Facebook page, used with permission, Schaeffer compared the weather to Alaska's harsh coastal climate.
"Windy like Shaktoolik," he wrote.
Upon arrival in Russia, some members of Team Beringia — made up of Russians Mikhail Telpin and Timofei Gynungtegin, Norwegian Joar Leifseth Ulsom, German Yvonne Daabak and Alaskans Schaeffer and Miriam Osredkar — ran their teams 120 miles to the town where the race was to start.
The first leg out of Lorino was 62 miles.
It took Team Beringia teams 12 hours to run the 62-miler as they faced 50 mph head winds, Schaeffer reported.
The run was hard on dogs and mushers, but Schaeffer, Gynungtegin and Leifseth Ulsom landed at the first checkpoint in the top five.
The event is run in a stage-race format, so mushers and teams get to sleep and recharge at night. Stages range from 18 to 130 miles, with the final run marked at 60 miles to the finish line in Laventiya.
Team Beringia mushers are carrying SPOT trackers in their sleds thanks to some last-minute handy work of Kotzebue's Michael Oliver, who has helped out with the Kobuk 440.
Team Beringia brings a wide range of mushing talents, but said Schaeffer in an interview last month, he's there to experience a new culture and "bridge the gap" between Russian and Alaskan Natives.
"I'm really more interested in checking out the villages than racing," Schaeffer said. "It's going to be like going back in time for me.
"This is the opportunity of a lifetime."
For more on the race and updates on Team Beringia go to: http://www.racingberingia.com/2014-nadezhda-hope/