Invitation to the race from Tim White

Tim White – a name well known to the whole mushing world.

A Minnesota musher, early Iditarod veteran, participant and prize-winner of the major North American and European races (including The Pas World Championship, Yellowknife Canadian Championship Dog Derby – 6 times, Alpirod, Pirena, Alpen-Trail, etc), ex-president of the IFSS Tim White is worthily considered to be one of the greatest figures in the mushing world. Iditarod’s Race Marshal, Mark Nordman says, “Sleddog sports are his life. His every thought and action is somehow connected to dogs.” Besides being an international champion, Tim is an expert innovator and sled builder. He has designed the quick change runner (QRS) system that changed the whole sport. He was also the first musher to use the modern-day toboggan sled with its low runners and plastic bottom.  It was the sled that took Rick Swenson to his first victory in 1977 and since then, Tim White type toboggan sleds have entered the mushing tradition forever.

White has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Mush with P.R.I.D.E for his never-ending energy in being goodwill and promotional ambassador for sleddog sports worldwide. White is also known for his knowledge as a mushing historian and is a co-organizer of the Mushing History Conference that is annually held in Alaska.

Message to Russian mushers from the legend of the mushing world – Tim White

North Hope – True Spirit of Mushing

New Hope for a new season. Are you ready?

More than 30 years ago my good friend Peter and I would meet on the training trails in the autumn and early winter. Peter had a small team of large Malemutes. Like the legendary Petrushka, he was adventurous and cheerful, but his problem was not a single wolf, it was his dogs’ wolf-like behavior. No two dogs could run together, even a male and female, without growling and fighting. They didn’t tangle with other dogs because they were more interested to settle old grudges with their team mates. Peter would never give up his happy attitude, even in the worst mess, but usually by mid-winter he was saying with enthusiasm, “Wait ‘til next year!”

Next year is now! After days and weeks of routine chores and preparation over the summer you need a goal, excitement and motivation to focus on a new season.

During the period of Alpirod 20 years ago, that race was the ambition of many mushers in Europe and North America. The Iditarod mushers were happy to do something new and different. The Iditarod veterans complained the loudest when the organizers suggested making the race more like Iditarod. Dozens of Europeans entered the sport because of the innovations Alpirod brought to mushing, combining some of the best ideas from the global universe of sport with the terrain and conditions in the Alps, plus the opportunity to run with and learn from the best competitors in the sport of mushing. It was a success that changed the world of sled dog racing.

At a seminar in Fairbanks, Alaska, a European veterinarian who was involved with the Alpirod race organization said, “The future of the sport is in Europe!” Of course the North American purists and snobs were offended. They should not have been; it was true. In a dog team you usually have both young and veteran dogs. The future of your team is the new young dogs. More generally, we all need innovation, new ideas and the excitement of trying new races, new race formats, new methods and equipment.

Mushing is a sport of individuals and cooperation. Each musher and each dog is unique. This is not a sport of uniformity and conformity. In a dog team you require some discipline but only as a means to teach and encourage cooperation among the dogs with the musher. The same for mushing and race organizations. If they start to emphasize discipline and conformity, they loose the more essential spirit of cooperation and innovation that is part of the tradition and character of mushing, the identity of the sport. The first major sled dog race, The All Alaska Sweepstakes in Nome, Alaska, had a few simple rules, not pages of them identified with complex codes like 22.18.5; and the supreme rule was that none of the rules should prevent the best dog team from winning.

North Hope is another step in the evolution and spread of modern sled dog racing, the best of traditions and fresh ideas. I would recommend this event to every musher who is seeking the true spirit of mushing. Seeing so much in common with the Alpirod – that sadly for the whole sport ceased to exist – I would be happy to attend myself.

Welcome to North Hope Sled Dog Race 2015!

Timothy White