Siberian Sleddogs | Nadezhda Hope Race 2014, Chukotka, Siberia/Russia
Siberian husky, Sled dogs, Iditarod, Arctic, dogsled, Siberia
4180
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-4180,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-3.2,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1.1,vc_responsive
 

Blog

Nadezhda Hope Race 2014, Chukotka, Siberia/Russia

  |   Everyday life, Race reports, Racing   |   7 Comments

Just one and a half week after we returned from Nome after running our first Iditarod, we were already on our way back, although this time to go even further east. A team of nine Iditarod dogs joined us to Chukotka in Siberia, Russia to run the 2014 Nadezhda Hope International Sled dog race as guest musher for Team Racing Beringia.

Dogs, sleds and gear ready to be loaded in Nome

Dogs, sleds and gear ready to be loaded in Nome

The Nadezhda Hope International Sled dog race takes place in Chukotka where dogsledding began some 7-8000 years ago. Local hunters and their dogteams participate from various villages in Chukotka. This was the first year in the history of the race where, in addition to the overall competition, there was also a traditional competition specifically for mushers running the traditional Chukchi sled. Most Chukchi mushers are using the ancient kolyma-style sit-down sled which is favorable in regions with high winds like Chukotka. While all mushers compete for the Championship, only mushers that qualify for the traditional competition are in the race for the purse.

Map showing the 2014 Nadezhda Hope International Sled dog

Map showing the 2014 Nadezhda Hope International Sled dog

Team Racing Beringia coming from Alaska was: Mille Porsild from Denmark who made this adventure possible. Mille joined the race by snowmachine and took breathtaking pictures. Kenneth Dåbakk from Norway followed the race by snowmachine dragging the sled with the dropped dog box. Joar Leifset Ulsom from Norway ran his team of Alaskan huskies. Joar placed 4th in the 2014 Iditarod.

Team Racing Beringia. From left to right: Timofei, Chuck, Joar, Miriam, Yvonne and Kenneth

Team Racing Beringia. From left to right: Timofei, Chuck, Joar, Miriam, Yvonne and Kenneth

Timofei Gynuntegin from Lorino, Chukotka, ran Joar’s puppy team. Inupiaq Chuck Scheaffer, the first-ever native Alaskan musher to start in the Nadezhda Hope race, ran his team of Alaskan huskies. Chuck is a veteran of most all Alaskan races including the Iditarod. Miriam Osredkar from the US ran a team of Milles Polar Huskies together with lead dog Rips, an small AH female. Yvonne Dåbakk from Germany ran her team of Siberian Huskies. Yvonne is the first ever German to start in the Nadezhda Hope Race.

Flying arcoss the Bering Strait. Chukotka is so close to Alaska, yet so far away. Flight time: 1,5h

Flying arcoss the Bering Strait. Chukotka is so close to Alaska, yet so far away. Flight time: 1,5h

Sleds, equipment, snowmachine and five 9-dog teams we boarded two planes and we flew across the Bering Strait from Alaska to Chukotka. After our arrival at the airport in Provideniya we mushed the dogs across the bay into town, and a day of paperwork later we were finally ready to start on our 175km way north to the starting line in the town of Lorino – by dogteam of course.

Suppa and Svolvær enjoyed the breathtaking scenery on our 2-day journey to the starting line just as much as we did.

Suppa and Svolvær enjoyed the breathtaking scenery just as much as we did.

The first day we ran 75km from Provideniya via the small town of Novo Chaplino to Mikhail Telpins hometown of Yanrakynnot. A long, warm day for the dogs on loose trails in breathtaking landscape. The next morning we continued another 100km from Yarakynnot to Lorino, Timofeis hometown, in strong winds. We were caught in a ground blizzard about half way through and had another tough, long day of running for both us and the dogs before we reached town in the evening. We had hoped to get a day of rest before the race start, but having spent one day in Nome delayed by weather and one in Provideniya delayed by customs paperwork we just had to get our BiB’s and start the race the following day. We got BIB # 26.

Runnin out from Yanrakynnot on a windy day. We ran into a ground blizzard later that day and had a long 100km trip to Lorino

Runnin out from Yanrakynnot on a windy day. We ran into a ground blizzard later that day and had a long 100km trip to Lorino

The race started at 8 AM, and the first race day took us 100km back to Yanrakynnot were we had just come from. The weather was nice, trails were good. I had decided that since this was the first race ever we entered with a team that all had race experience I would not limit them as much as we have done so far but see what they can do if we let them race.

Nadezhda Hope Race banner

Nadezhda Hope Race banner

Our team flying along the Bering Sea coast on the first lag from Lorino to Yanrakynnot

Our team flying along the Bering Sea coast on the first lag from Lorino to Yanrakynnot

The trail took us on a narrow stretch of land over a large bay past remainings of ancient housing, walrusbones, sticking out of the ground along the beach. The oldest remain of sled dog culture are found in this region of Eastern Beringia, dating more than 7000 years back. The Chukchi use and run their dogs much in the same way today as back then. It is believed the Chukchi dogs are one of the 8 basal breeds existing today.  

Frame

Chukchi team on the ice

Shortly after we climbed a hill and dropped on the sea ice. There was a large amount of snowmachine tracks and trail marking was sparse or absent, so taking the wrong trail was easy for a non-local team and we found ourselves following a team that took the wrong way leading us on a 30min detour. Fortunately, one of the snow machines that follow the race for safety reasons came to tell us we were way off, and pointed us in the right direction.

The snowmachine support crew for the race, making sure everyone was safe at all times

The snowmachine support crew for the race, making sure everyone was safe at all times

This was not the only time it was challenging to find the right trail throughout the race, but the longest detour we ended up taking. We traveled across sea ice on large bay and saw polar bear tracks before heading inland up and over hilly tundra terrain to avoid open water created by strong currents. About 15 km from the finish in Yanrakynnot we dropped back onto the sea ice.

A chukchi team running along the coast on their way to Yanrakynnot

A chukchi team running along the coast on their way to Yanrakynnot

A Chukchi team taking a short break on their way to Yanrakynnot

A Chukchi team taking a short break on their way to Yanrakynnot

We arrived in Yanrakynnot after 8h and 34 minutes, the 12th fastest running time of the 27 starting teams, despite our scenic detour. Winner of the first stage was Victor Achivantin from the community of Neskhan on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and his team of traditional Chukchi dogs. After having parked our team we started the process of preparing the dogs meal: chopping large chunks of frozen, fermented walrus, cutting the walrus slices in pieces and boiling meat and blubber together to a delicious, thick walrus soup.

Misha shows us how it's done: precision walrus chopping in Jeans without getting all greasy

Misha shows us how it’s done: precision walrus chopping in Jeans without getting all greasy

Mille, Miriam and Joar all busy chopping cutting and dicing walrus, closely watched by local kids

Mille, Miriam and Joar all busy chopping cutting and dicing walrus, closely watched by local kids

Kenneth cooking Walrus soup

Kenneth boiling Walrus soup in Lavrentiya

There are about 80 calories in 28 g of walrus meat and blubber. After the dogs were fed we went to eat delicious food at Misha’s place. His wife Soya is a fantastic cook and hostess! In the evening we went to the school were Nadezhda Hope, dogs and racers, were celebrated with traditional storytelling and dancing.

Evening mood in Yanrakynnot

Evening mood in Yanrakynnot

Evening mood at the dog parking on the ice outside Yanrakynnot

Evening mood at the dog parking on the ice outside Yanrakynnot

The race route was changed for the next day. Originally, the plan was for us to go to Novo Chaplino (50km), stay for the night and then head to Provideniya (25km), giving us two days with short lags. However, due to weather reports we were sent directly to Provideniya (73km).

Miriam and her team of polar huskies

Miriam and her team of polar huskies

It was yet again a beautiful day. Joar, Timofei, Chuck, Miriam and I started last of all teams. We used about 30km running on sea ice to get passed the 22 Chukchi teams. Passing in Chukotka is a lot of fun – the teams speed up once you try to pass, cheered on by their musher.

A line of teams on the ice

A line of teams on the ice

You can easily find yourself spending minutes and miles trying to pass one team, and might just as well be sandwiched inbetween two or three teams running parallel. Passing and running with the other teams was no issue at all, we had a great time being social.

Our team in the passing queue on the ice towards Provideniya

Our team in the passing queue on the ice towards Provideniya

After passing Novo Chaplino the trail climbes up a long hill for a short run through rolling terrain before we dropped out on the bay of Provideniya.

Joar and Timofei climbing up from the sea ice, with Chuck and our team behind them on the ice

Joar and Timofei climbing up from the sea ice, with Chuck and our team behind them on the ice

Climbing up from the sea ice on our way to Provideniya

Climbing up from the sea ice on our way to Provideniya

We arrived in Provideniya after 5h 40 minutes, the third fastest running time and 28 seconds slower than Timofei who was in second place. This placed us 4th in the overall competition!

Locals serve warm chai on the ice in Provideniya

Locals serve warm chai and snacks on the ice in Provideniya

Dance

Traditional dance and story telling performed on the Bay outside Provideniya

The dogs were doing great on this lag. We were served warm chai on the ice upon arrival, parked and made a fire on the beach, chopped and cut walrus and prepared walrus soup while locals performed a dance on the ice.

Kenneth is chopping fermented walrus as dinner for our team in Provideniya

Kenneth is chopping fermented walrus as dinner for our team in Provideniya

Our bonfire with pots of walrus soup cooking on the beach in Provideniya

Our bonfire with pots of walrus soup cooking on the beach in Provideniya

Race day 3 took us 75km back to Yanrakynnot. Our team was in great shape, and we yet again had the overall third fastest running time.

Joar and his team on the ice on their way towards Novo Chaplino

Chuck and his team on the ice on their way towards Novo Chaplino

Chuck and his team on the ice on their way towards Novo Chaplino

Joar and his team on the ice on their way towards Novo Chaplino

Krutt showed signs of a sore shoulder at the end of the run and I decided to drop him in Yanrakynnot considering the next day would be a tough, long lag via Lorino to Lavrentiya (130km). Kenneth pulled a sled with a wooden box with his snow machine to transport dropped dogs along the trail, and it was in this box that Krutt was going to enjoy riding in for the rest of the race.  

Our team crossing the finish line of day 3 in Yanrakynnot with the overall thrid fastest running time that day.

Our team crossing the finish line of day 3 in Yanrakynnot with the overall thrid fastest running time that day.

Chukchi dog welcome comittee in Yanrakynnot

Chukchi dog welcome comittee in Yanrakynnot

Since day 4 was the longest lag going from Yanrakynnot past Lorino (100km) and all the way to Lavrentiya (130km) we were supposed to start at 4 am instead of 8 am as usual. This is a very challenging leg of the race regardless of weather conditions as the long trail presents both rolling tundra, long flat streches of glare sea ice as well as hill climbing and areas without snow.

Our team in the tundra on our way towards Lavrentiya

Our team in the tundra on our way towards Lavrentiya

After about 60km Mini was tired. He had not managed to take in enough energy due to the sudden change of diet and activity level, and had lost more weight than the others. I put him in the sled and carried him to Lorino, where I decided to drop both him and his brother Jesper who showed similar signs, before we continued with a team of 6 the final 30km to Lavrentiya.

Thawing permafrost outside of Lorino on our way towards Lavrentiya

Thawing permafrost outside of Lorino on our way towards Lavrentiya

We had fun trying to find the right and shortest trail but managed ok and only took some minor detours. We arrived in Lavrentiya yet again with the overall third fastest time and had now passed Chuck running in 3rd place! Both Mini and Jesper put on weight quickly over the next days riding together with their brother Krutt in the dropped dog box along the trail and having a walrus soup feast twice daily.

Our team starting on day 5 on our way to Uelen, the world's easternmost community

Our team starting on day 5 on our way to Uelen, the world’s easternmost community

Day 5 took us from Lavrentiya 100km to Uelen. Our team was doing great and seemed to get better and better. We had the 2nd fastest running time, 40 minutes faster than Timofei and Chuck.

Joar and his team had the fastest run time to Uelen

Joar and his team had the fastest run time to Uelen

Uelen is the easternmost community on Earth, the place where every new day begins. It is a community of about 400 people located on a very narrow spit of land with a lagoon on one side and the beach of the Arctic Ocean on the other. A large crowd waited for us at the finish line, we were served chai and a snack.

Our team crossing the finish line for day 5 in Uelen with the second fastest running time for the day

Our team crossing the finish line for day 5 in Uelen with the second fastest running time for the day

Kost and Snuppa, who led the entire race admire the crowd that had come to greet them in Uelen

Kost and Snuppa, who led the entire race admire the crowd that had come to greet them in Uelen

The kids had already started bonfires for us to cook walrus soup on, and we even got pre-chopped walrus from the locals. The kids were helping chopping even more walrus as we finally had a day off the following day, kept bonfires alive all day and until late evening to cook walrus soup on and cuddled dogs of all teams.

Local kids in Uelen made sure to keep bonfires going and kept an eye on the boiling walrus soup

Local kids in Uelen made sure to keep bonfires going and kept an eye on the boiling walrus soup

The Church in Uelen in front of the Arctic Ocean

The Church in Uelen in front of the Arctic Ocean

Uelen is famous for some of the world’s most outstanding traditional carving culture and history. We used parts of our day off to visit the most spectacular Museum of Arts in Uelen with its collection of carving. Simply stunning! We also got to visit Uelen’s unique carving school where even children as young as 10 years old can begin to learn the art of skills to become carvers.

Impression from checkpoint Uelen

Impression from checkpoint Uelen

A boy in Uelen feeds one of the Chukchi teams

A boy in Uelen feeds one of the Chukchi teams

Chukchi dogs have a great appetite! We were impressed by the common size of food bowls

Chukchi dogs have a great appetite! We were impressed by the common size of food bowls

Traditional Kolyma-style sit down sled

Traditional Kolyma-style sit down sled

The carving master and teacher showed us around and demonstrated the use of modern tools used today together with old techniques used to carve most incredible pieces of art in walrus tusk. Chukotka carving is unique, highly detailed and precisely carved. In addition, colored scrapings on the bone tell stories. In the evening we headed to the culture house for traditional dance. We were all dressed up and got to show our dance moves as well!

Traditional dance performance in Uelen

Traditional dance performance in Uelen

All dressed up in Uelen

All dressed up in Uelen

After our day off race day 7 took us 30 km to the community of Inchoun. A race for kids took place on the same trail staring an hour ahead of us, and boy were they running! Our team of six was getting better and better every day. The dogs flew on this short lag, and we finished as overall winners of this lag, 57 seconds faster than Joar. We were now 3 minutes behind Timofei, who was in overall 2nd place, The kids run times were only minutes slower than Joar and mine…

Our team posing with locals in Inchoun

Our team posing with locals in Inchoun

Awards ceremony for the kids race from Uelen to Inchoun (30km). They impressed us with their speed and were only minutes behind our overall fastest time for the day.

Awards ceremony for the kids race from Uelen to Inchoun (30km). They impressed us with their speed and were only minutes behind our overall fastest time for the day.

Kenneth is chopping walrus meat for the dogs in Uelen

Kenneth is chopping walrus meat for the dogs in Uelen

Inchoun was a wonderful small community. As in Uelen there was a crowd welcoming us, and bonfires were set up to prepare the meal for the dogs, kids were running around inbetween teams and village dogs were making sure no food was going to waste.

Chuck doing what he said he’s going to miss the least: chopping greasy walrus meat

Chuck doing what he said he’s going to miss the least: chopping greasy walrus meat

Impression from Inchoun

Impression from Inchoun

After the dogs had been taken care of we went to celebrate the junior mushers and were treated with traditional and modern dance and storytelling before we were invited for chai. We stayed in the small house of a young couple who cooked delicious dinner for us.  

Kenneth found a nice snowmachine in Inchoun

Kenneth found a nice snowmachine in Inchoun

Evening mood with a team resting on the ice in Inchoun

Evening mood with a team resting on the ice in Inchoun

Our place to stay in Inchoun, a small, very cose home with a pet dog in the window

Our place to stay in Inchoun, a small, very cose home with a pet dog in the window

Local kids watching a musher taking care of his dogteam in Inchoun

Local kids watching a musher taking care of his dogteam in Inchoun

Moon rising over the Arctic

Moon rising over the Arctic

There was no doubt in our mind that we would be able to run the remaining 3 minutes faster than Timofei and his team on the final 100km back to Lavrentiya and finish second, and we were ready to race.

Our team on the last lag towards Lavrentiya and the finish line

Our team on the last lag towards Lavrentiya and the finish line

Our team had become better and better and was running faster than Timofeis for the past lags. It was therefore tremendously disappointing when Timofei was too sick to race the final lag and had to scratch in Inchoun. Joar took Timofei’s 6 dogs into his team, racing the last lag with 14 instead of 8 dogs.

Joar running both his and Timofei's team on the last lag towards Lavrentiya

Joar running both his and Timofei’s team on the last lag towards Lavrentiya

It was yet another beautiful morning, and in order for everyone to make the banquet in Lavrentiya we once again started at 4 am. For a long time I wasn’t sure if I was on the right trail. There were no markers at all, just some snowmachine tracks. I was running in lead and could not see Chuck behind me. After about 2 hours I heard a snowmachine and though: Oh great, either they’re coming to tell you that you have to turn around or it is the snowmachine with race marshall Nikolay that will be in lead. Fortunately, it was Nikolay.

One of the last climbes towards the finish line in Lavrentiya

One of the last climbes towards the finish line in Lavrentiya

It was a beautiful morning, but over the course of the day we got flat light and it became cloudy. I could not see the trail further ahead than my lead dogs (in a 6 dog team…) and there was no way either I could see bumps in the trail or tell if we were going up or down. I was therefore surprised when we reached the decent to the sea ice and saw Lavrentiya, as I had thought we were running slow and just did not notice we were going up all those hills leading to the final drop already.

Our team crossing the finish line in overall second place! The dogs got better and better throughout the race

Our team crossing the finish line in overall second place! The dogs got better and better throughout the race

We had another fantastic lag running alone in front all the way with no team in sight. Joar and his team of 14 were only 7 minutes faster than our team of 6 on the final 100km to the finish line! Joar thereby became Champion of the 2014 International Nadezhda Hope Sled Dog Race, and we finished in second place 2h 30 behind him. We are so proud of our team! Chuck finished in third place 2h 15 behind us.

Chuck Schaeffer rising his arms at the finish line in Lavrentiya

Chuck Schaeffer rising his arms at the finish line in Lavrentiya

In the evening it was time for the finishers Banquet.

Traditional dance performace on the finishers Banquet in Lavrentiya

Traditional dance performace on the finishers Banquet in Lavrentiya

Chukchi musher Victor Achivantin (Ачивантин Виктор Сергеевич) of Inchoun is the winner of the traditional competition. The defending 2013 Champion of the race Peter Poyagirgin (Поягиргин Петр Юрьевич) placed 2nd in the traditional competition and 5th in the overall competition.

Mushers at the finishers Banquet

Mushers at the finishers Banquet

Third in the traditional competition and 6th overall was Egor Atchitagin (Атчитагин Егор Анатольевич). All the top three mushers in the traditional competition were from the small community of Inchoun on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, known for its nearby huge walrus rookery. Maybe their dominance comes from their Inchoun dogs running hard-core miles as they head out walrus hunting…?

Awards ceremony: Winner of the overall competition: Joar Leifset Ulsom, second place Yvonne Dåbakk, third place Chuck Schaeffer. Winner of the traditional competition and 4th place overall, ictor Achivantin (Ачивантин Виктор Сергеевич) of Inchoun. second place (5th overall) Peter Poyagirgin (Поягиргин Петр Юрьевич), third (fifth overall) Egor Atchitagin (Атчитагин Егор Анатольевич)

Miriam and her team Polar Huskies, the tanks, had the slowest total run time for the race of those 16 teams that finished — but they had strong stages along the way and Miriam was all smiles! They’ve won a lot of hearts a long the way, too, and got to run a lot with the Chukchi teams. Tyneskitegin, Тынескитегин б/и б/о, from Neskan was with his 77 years the oldest musher in this years race.

2014 Nadezhda Hope race final standings

2014 Nadezhda Hope race final standings

Little Rips, Miriam's leader is taking a well-deserved nap after having led the Polar Huskies all the way to the finish line in the 2014 Nadezhda Hope race

Little Rips, Miriam’s leader is taking a well-deserved nap after having led the Polar Huskies all the way to the finish line in the 2014 Nadezhda Hope race

We rested the teams a day before we started on our 205 km back to Provideniya and the airport. On our way back, we stopped one night in Lorino where we said goodbye to Timofei before we continued towards Yanrakynnot.

Chuck and his team following us on our way to Lorino and eventually the airport in Provideniya

Chuck and his team following us on our way to Lorino and eventually the airport in Provideniya

We stayed another night at Misha’s place where Soya spoiled us with a dinner as usual. On the third day we went on to Provideniya, and reached town in the evening. The following day we ran the dogs across the bay to the airport and boarded the two planes that had come to fly us back to Nome, Alaska.

Mille and Miriam in Yanrakynnot.

Mille and Miriam in Yanrakynnot. All smiles as always 🙂

It was Friday when we left Russia, and having to cross the date border again we joked that we were looking forward to eating pizza in Nome yesterday –as it would only be Thursday when we landed.

Mushing from Provideniya to the Airport

Mushing from Provideniya to the Airport

What an adventure we had! When asked about the most memorable about this race Chuck replied: “the wonderful people of this place!” We could not agree more. People were so friendly, helpful and welcoming. 

A young girl in Uelen holding a Chukchi puppy

A young girl in Uelen holding a Chukchi puppy

This kid chopped my whole chunk of walrus in Lavrentiya with an ax almost his size. He politely made me understand I had to stand back and let him to the work...

This kid chopped my whole chunk of walrus in Lavrentiya with an ax almost his size. He politely made me understand I had to stand back and let him do the work…

We were absolutely dazzled by the endurance, speed and diversity of the beautiful Chukchi dogs, the very ancestors of our own dogs. It really made it obvious to us why they must have been popular to bring to Alaska as fast racing dogs in the early 1900. These dogs are still used much the same way today as back then. The Chukchi dogs work extremely hard and well, are fast and have great endurance, throw themselves over food, have a very good and healthy language and are well adapted to their harsh, Arctic climate.

Beautiful dogs at the starting line in Lavrentiya

Beautiful dogs at the starting line in Lavrentiya

Some are huge, others small, some are more square, others have long legs. Some have very long coats, others shorter, they come in all colors and with a huge variety of markings. They are all equally accepted, as they most importantly all have two things in common which ultimately determine their appearance and nature: they are shaped by and adapted to the work they are bred and selected to do in the harsh Arctic environment they live in. These are the two governing factors determining how they look and are. No more is needed.

Please find Mille Porsild/Racing Beringia’s fantastic pictures for each race day here:

Day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5&6, day 7, day 8

7 Comments
  • nancy faith | Apr 25, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Congratulations Yvonne!!!! 2nd place woot woot!!! You and your team are amazing. I want to thank you for the wonderful photos and blog posts of your daily adventures.. How exciting to do that race. You have definitely had your plate full the last few months. Congrats again..!!

  • Pernilla | Apr 26, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Wow! What a cool trip and well done with the race!! Really nice to read about it here -thanks for posting pics and telling the story!

  • Gerd | Apr 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Hi, this was a fantastic description of your journey. You had a great experience over there. Through your detailed report everybody could follow and enjoy it. Thanks.

  • Inni granskauen kennel | Apr 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Not only a great musher but a magnificent storyteller also,…..

  • Kjøttnils | May 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Hei, dette var stort ! ! Vormsund blir stusseli etter og sett på dette ! Russland neste ? ?
    Hilsen fra Kjøttnils

  • Siberian Sleddogs | All good things go by three! | Nov 29, 2015 at 10:28 am

    […] Nadezhda Hope Race 2014 […]

  • Jorka | Jan 10, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Dear Yvonne,
    only now I took the time to read your wonderful reports.
    Thank you for sharing und knuddel die Welpen von mir.
    Wir sind auch bald eine_r mehr 🙂
    Liebe Grüße aus Berlin
    Jorka

Post A Comment