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'Right on the bank of the river there is a station Ob, a big trading city with magnificent cathedral, great schools and shops — very American-like.'
1904, priest Mitrophan Serebryaniy

With the world famous Beringia Dog Race underway, a former participant explains its magical appeal

By Kate Baklitskaya
14 March 2013

'Beringia is not just a race. This is a global event that unites the excitement of the sport event and a full range expedition difficulties', says Stanislav Vasiliev, who took part in Beringia 2012.

 'Beringia is an event that can totally change your life', Stanislav Vasiliev said. Picture: Beringia race

'What's so interesting about Beringia 2013? First of all, it's the passion. In the same race you have the old traditions of Kamchatka dog racing and the modern way of doing things.

'From my first day in Esso - the starting point - I was blown away by the number of the dogs, the number of people passionate about these dogs, and the relationship between these people. 

'People at Beringia represent a separate breed  - open, reliable and real. Now I have a lot of friends in Kamchatka.

'Then there is the tundra. There are no words that describe the feelings it gave me. After we got into it, I loved the endless kilometres of bright sun and sparkling snow. I was overwhelmed with a storm of emotions. I remembered the line from Jack London and thought that this is the 'Call of the Wild'. 

Beringia 2013


Beringia 2013


Beringia 2013

'Then there was the tundra. There are no words that describe the feelings it gave me. After we got into it, I loved the endless kilometres of bright sun and sparkling snow. Pictures: Beringia race

'And the dogs, who are they? Assistants, friends, hard workers? They are my team, we are equal and I'm just their leader. Such a tandem of the animal and man is only possible in the harsh conditions of the North.

'I have the clear feeling that the dogs understand that our lives depend on each other. 

'Their life depends on mine, and mine on them. Now we hear a lot about the dog hunters. Some people support them, some are against. 

'Both sides present their arguments, but I'd love someone from those who support killing the dogs to spend a couple of days in tundra with a team of dogs. 

'And it's very interesting what would they say on their return and how their attitude to dogs will change? Has my attitude to dogs changed? Sure it did!

'Now I don't treat them just as fluffy pups with beautiful eyes, no. I will not choose a puppy depending on the ears in shape or colour of the eyes. 

'Now I understand that they are my team, the most reliable and loyal friends, strong animals. And I will not humanise them now. In that way I would underestimate them and make them weaker.

What next ? On returning home, I abruptly changed my life, and rebuilt it in a way that I have more time to spend with my dogs and prepare them for the major expeditions and races. 

Beringia 2013


Beringia 2013

Stanislav Vasiliev with daughter Sofia at Beringia 2012. Pictures: S. Vasiliev 

'I realized that I was not interested in sprints anymore, I don't want just to run for 10 kilometres with my team, but want to prepare them for hundreds and thousands of kilometres. Beringia is an event that can totally change your life'. 

This year the race is over 970km.

Crossing frozen tundra,  15 competing teams and their dogs are enduring temperatures of minus 25C or lower. Each team has between 9 and 14 dogs and they are passing through 17 stages, resting at checkpoints in heated tents or small hotels on the way. 

The Beringia is famed as the longest on the world, but this only applied to 1991 and 1992 when it covered 1,980km and 2,044km respectively. 

This year it is well short of the world famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska which is officially set at 1,688 km.

The Beringia race across Kamchatka goes from the village of Esso and ends at Ossaro. 

Comments (2)

Right you are Valentyna, a story about one beautiful family in love with the dogs and free spirit. Think that's how the life should go, in harmony with the nature and animals.
Kate, Russia
15/03/2013 16:36
1
0
What a beautiful story. Makes me quite envious. I've always loved the Siberian Husky and the Malamute, but as they are working dogs one cannot take them away from their environment and what they were created for.
Valentyna, Perth, Scotland
14/03/2013 22:23
1
0
1

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