About the race

The North Hope Race originated on the basis of the orphanage at St.Nicholas parish of Kotkishevo village of Russian Orthodox Church. The idea of putting on a race came up literally at tea  in an informal talk among Terry Hinesly – an American musher that came to North Hope to teach mushing to the orphan boys  in 2005, Mother Paraskeva – a nun, founder and main inspiration of North Hope who had adopted 15 boys from Neya orphanage that later became the heart and soul of the whole project and a Russian musher Mikhail Bragin who is the only sportsman that finished all North Hope races and has been actively involved with developing the race concept since its inception. The idea was more of an adventure than a serious project for the future. Hardly anyone could believe that such an event could be put on solely by an angel-faced nun in a wheel-chair, her orphan boys and a bunch of enthusiasts, working at North Hope.

Later when all the boys had successfully graduated and attended colleges and universities and North Hope had gathered incredible positive experience in psychological and social rehabilitation of children with the help of sled dogs, it was transformed in the Sled Dog Center specializing in programs for children and families including programs for orphan, physically challenged and special needs children. For all the 8 years all the North Hope events have been held to support children and development of the childrens programs of the center and in 2013 the North Hope Race has finally been given an official status – race for the benefit of children. Money earned at the race go into implementation and development of the programs of the center for orphan children, physically challenged and special needs children.

Despite having their own adult lives by now, the North Hope graduates are actively involved with the race: Alexey Kotov is a sled dog guide and kennel manager of the North Hope Kennel and runs the race every year in 6-dog class with his team of purebred Siberian huskies; Mikhail Sypko has been the Trail Boss assistant at the NH races for 3 consecutive years already; Vanya Lebedev, Lyosha Shorokhov and Sasha Buzin come to work as race volunteers every year.

Traditionally the race has been been held with the help, support and oversight of the two legendary names in the mushing world of North America and dear friends of North Hope – an Iditarod veteran, musher and race judge with 30 years of experience Terry Hinesly (USA) and an Iditarod vet, the president of the ISDVMA, holder of 3 golden stethoscopes – Dr. Caroline Griffitts (USA).

For many years they’ve been putting the North Hope Race into their schedule right between the greatest races on Earth – the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. Among the race participants were not only the best Russian mushers and rookies but mushers from the USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Race 2014 promises to add more mushers from Europe to that list and more guests and race officials from the USA and Canada.

Every year the race has been securing an outstanding team of race officials introducing new members once in while. Thus, besides Terry Hinesly,  there were two other  top-rank professionals entering the judges team in 2013 – the Iditarod and Yukon Quest veteran and the John Beargease Marathon champion Blake Freking (USA), an experienced musher, an IFSS judge and Pirene Race Marshal Ramon Rojas (Spain), and the best race judges of the country Valery Shumilovskiy and Elena Litvinova (Russia). With Caroline Griffitts in lead the vet team includes some world class professionals like Richard Long (Canada) – the Yukon Quest Head Vet for 3 consecutive years and the race vet at the major North American and European races and the Vice-President of the ISDVMA; Jaime Martinez Salles (Spain) – the Head Vet of Pirena Race, race vet of the Finmarkslopet any other world major races; and some top-rank Russian veterinarians including Dmitriy Tokuyev (Kostroma, Russia), Kamil and Nadezhda Bakhteyevs (Yaroslavl’, Russia) and a young and promising vet Irina Suslova (Ivanovo, Russia). Not many major world races can boast of such an outstanding team of race officials.

In the light of an increasing number of commercial races North Hope in a remarkable manner continues attracting mushers, race officials, volunteers from Russia and abroad . With its atmosphere of unprecedented love and light and not having any money prize North Hope has an allure of absolutely another kind that brings very special people together and saves what has been initially inherent in the idea of mushing – harmony of a human with nature and the magic of teamwork. The undying interest in the race indicates that a number of sportsmen whose interests are not limited to financial side of the sport is not decreasing but growing and sled dog racing is not loosing its true meaning.

Today North Hope is the only sled dog race in the European part of Russia that has been held for 11 consecutive years and still has cheerful prospects. The race became an innovator and path breaker in many ways, having opened a window into the world of mushing of North America, Canada, etc, having offered a gold mine of precious knowledge and experience for Russian mushers and finally  having introduced some high-class legendary mushing people into the country sled dog sport that every race in Russia and beyond now counts a great honor to have on board.

North Hope is a unique project combining a serious sport status, rich information program and charitable cause which has no equals not only in Russia but probably in the whole world. If you are searching for a miracle – this is undoubtedly one of them.

The Russian-American cooperation within the North Hope project is not accidental and is extremely symbolic – having originated in Russia and then being totally lost during the Soviet times, mushing survived only through to the efforts of North America. And today the USA is bringing the sport home. There are no accidental people at North Hope.

Year after year some incredible people are sent to North Hope with the hand of God, people that can be spotted from the first sight – special glint in their eyes and an angel on their shoulder. Many of them keep coming back to North Hope every year forming that volunteer backbone, only with common efforts of which it is possible to make it all happen. Like «team» is a key word to mushing, North Hope is lucky to have one.

Mushing and sled dog sport is not just a speed and  endurance competition. It’s also an ability to dissolve in harmony with a living creature, it’s a sport suppressing ambitions and getting one to the finish line mainly by love and care for your team-mates. This is a sport that serves to reveal the things in a human that are being lost rapidly these days – magic, almost totemic bond with nature,  power of a wild beast and of a pure heart.

By its existance North Hope Race helps to believe that the good old Leonard Seppala and his legendary team carrying the vaccine for the sick children of Nome is still among us and that a True Musher is moving in the right direction.