Media Release

On February 18-24, 2017 the annual International North Hope Stage Sled Dog Race for the benefit of children will take place in Neya area, Kostroma region, Russia for the 11th consecutive year. Thus, the oldest and the biggest race in the European part of Russia will start its new round and confidently step onto the shady side of 10.

Keeping the best of the 11 years it continues to move forward and offer new ideas and forms to its participants. It thoroughly analyzes the needs of the mushers, general tendencies in the sport, adopting and adapting the experience of the North American and European mushing world. Balancing within the optimal ratio of traditions and innovations, the NH 2017 will offer the following to its mushers and spectators:

  • 360 km overall distance divided into 6 stages ranging from 40 to 90 km each;
  • a game-changing format of the North Hope Light Race – this year the Light mushers will cover 180 km – a half of the main distance – running parallel with the participants of the main event with the stage milages cut in half from the main distances ranging between 30 – 45 km each. This way the Light race will be integrated into the main event more naturally, offering more adequate distances to rookies, giving a chance to experience a mid-distance race in full and participate in all additional events within the race and, on top of it, be part of a big awards ceremony in the end;
  • an official sister-race status of the legendary stage sled dog competition in the French Alps, the creator and trend-setter of the stage format in sled dog racving – Lekkarod and free Lekkarod entries for the North Hope champions;
  • keeping the favourite part of the race among NH mushers and a climatic scene of the race in many regards – the unassisted overnight campout checkpoint as a key element of mid-distance mushing;
  • European mushers with their dog among participants 
  • new top-notch members of the race official team and new guests of honour; 
  • extending the educational part of the race – introducing the Rookie meeting with a serious program of seminars and presentations before the race;
  • developing the junior racing program in cooperation with the Severniy Sled Dog Club (Moscow) and DogWinter Kennels (Saratov) and introducing the Junior mid-distance event – first time ever in Russia.

Traditionally the race will be open with a Ceremonial start along the town streets of Neya and the Warm Heart charity ride for the children from the Neya orphanage, physically challenged children of the region, students of the Sunday school and winners of the Sled Dog Through Kids Eyes art contest. The children will give some hand-made good-luck charms for their mushers to keep. The charms will be included in the list of mandatory gear for all the stages of the race and will have to cross the finish line together with the teams. Skijorers and pulka drivers will take part in a bright parade with children and dogs, representing their regions.

The race preparations are in full swing, the ideas are running before the hounds, the Divine help can be felt at each turn. The inspiration for a new round can be already felt in the air as well as the lack of hands and hours in a day is as present as ever.

On behalf of the organizers, we would like to thank everyone who looks forward for the sign up to begin each year, to those who have just joined in and those who are only thinking of giving it a try. The atmosphere of unprecedented kindness and warmth around the race pays off all the efforts, motivates and guarantees the result. 

In conditions of the tight racing calendar this year we would like to give special thanks to the NH veterans – for your loyalty, to the NH newcomers – for your trust, to the NH volunteers and race officials – for your friendship and professionalism, to NH sponsors and partners – for your support, to the skies – for the snow, guidance and all the wonders.