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When emotion captures the spirit more than from frost

Beringia dog sled race is more than sport

Beringia is a traditional Kamchatka dog sledding race. For the first time the contest of the mushers - the dog drivers - was held in January 1990 of the year. The idea of ​​the race suggested the magazine "Northern open spaces". Since then and to this day, “Beringia” is more than just a sport. This is the revival of national traditions. This is humanitarian aid and gifts for children who bring mushers. And this is a long-awaited holiday for residents of remote Kamchatka villages. Elena Golovacheva, a participant in two Bering events, including the 2018 race of the year, talks about her experiences, emotions experienced and whether Beringia can be a source for the birth of event tourism in Kamchatka.

When emotion captures the spirit more than from frost
- You participated in the "Beringia" twice. Both times managed to go the distance entirely? What has changed since your first participation?
“In 2014, I traveled as a journalist with a film crew, we filmed reports about the race, and they were broadcast on Gubernia channel. We covered the entire distance, then it was 1022 kilometers, that is, twice less than this year. We traveled only along the east coast, started near Petropavlovsk in Koryak, from a volcano, and we had a finish in the village of Tilichiki then. Now, our distance also went partially along the east coast, the start was in the village of Milkovo, the finish was in Chukotka in Markovo.

- How many days then and how long is the race now?
- Now we had exactly 39 days, I will never forget any of them. And last time I do not remember, but it was significantly less, in the region of three weeks. Considering all the parking lots, the days when we had to wait for a blizzard due to weather conditions. This year, in my memory, in the memory of the Beringians, there were the longest blizzards - forced parking - we spent six days in the village of Kamenskoye, this is the Penzhensky district. During these six days there was a wild bad weather, we could not move further north further, even in the village it was difficult to walk from one building to another, because nothing was visible. Of course, in this weather, the organizers could not let us go.

- Please tell us in more detail what the process of participation in Beringia looks like is not for the musher. Everything is clear with the musher - he has dogs and sledges. What is happening around him and how can you take part in the race, not being a horseman?
- Support group consists of several categories. Firstly, they are strong snowmobile guys, who accompany the race along the way and are ready to come to the rescue at any time. They bear the main responsibility. There were serious and dangerous situations when the guys even had to set out on a journey at night, when communication was lost, when due to bad weather the mushers remained somewhere along the route and had to be rescued. Part of the way we were accompanied by all-terrain vehicles, and there was an opportunity to store and transport some personal belongings.

- Was it possible on the most difficult part of the way?
- On the contrary, on the easiest part, because there is a highway, there is a road. But as soon as we went further north, where there are no roads and trails in Kamchatka and, I am afraid, there will never be, we carried all the things on ourselves. Technique is constantly trying to break - this is because of difficulties, because of difficulties.

- And who cooks the food?
- Chef and kitchen volunteers who help him.

- They are also in the team pass all the way?
- Sure.

“So how can you get to Beringia?”
- Yes. An application is submitted, and any candidate can be approved. Another thing is that applications fly from all over Russia, many want to try their hand. A medical examination is required. Anyone can get into the race, but you need to understand that this is not a tourist, fun snowmobile ride with gorgeous views. This is a truly extreme expedition, where not everyone is taken, and not everyone will be able to withstand, it will be very difficult both physically and mentally.

- How is the day during? race?
- First, from the evening, at the meeting, at the announcement of the results of the previous route, it is announced whether we are leaving or not going to the track and what time we leave. Starting time, as a rule, can change only due to weather conditions. Let's say we start in 8. In 7 hours, all the riders should be in their dogs, harness the teams, in 8 hours they should take turns in turn, and every 2 minutes the teams will start. Before that, all things should be collected, a camp should be assembled, breakfast is scheduled for hours on 6 in the morning. Accordingly, the cook gets up an hour earlier. People must have boiling water. There, large pots were placed on the fire and boiled. Everyone is picking up thermoses, boiling water should be a lot, take a snack with them. Bread must be cut. People eat a lot of bacon, it turns out, in such travels. Something that gives energy, its stock. The whole day goes to overcome the mileage of the day.

- Meal some kind of sad it turns out: boiling water, bread, lard.
- Breakfast is real, you can eat porridge. We had a selection of products. The race had sponsors, some of them even handed us a few boxes of lemons. We ate lemons in huge quantities - the body understood that vitamins are required. Then the lemons peremerzli: where to keep them, how to store on the route? And I had to throw it away.

- Each team of mushers prepares itself?
- No, centrally, the cook prepares for everyone. But for the dogs the musher cooks themselves.

- Do dogs eat fish?
- Dogs eat what they consider to be a kayur.

- Food can be any?
- Yes. Food for dogs is called "opana." What does this look like? Kayur arrives at the finish line, by this time volunteers should start at least some kind of camp, make a fire. The mussels are part of their narts, but most often in the composition of cargo narts they carry the dishes in which they cook, these are large pans. The water is heated, there is thrown back what the kayur considers necessary, each of them has his own ration for his dogs. Someone on the fish goes, the meat is steeper and more expensive. Each according to their finances. Sponsors allocated fish, but these were fish heads and not of the best quality. There were situations when the load and the food did not come at all, the guys were very indignant, suffered and worried. Because you need to restore the dogs. When we went to the 100 km route, then it became a matter of survival.

- All nights in the settlements?
- Not. This year we had five nights in the street. Four times these were military tents, which are extremely difficult to heat. Near the stove to sleep well, but it tends to fade. Personally, I did not sleep all night.

- And the people who are preparing the camp, how do the mushers manage to get there before?
- In different graphs, teams move. There are closing ones - volunteers who pick up the lost things, for example, slippers collect dogs and collect them. It is fundamentally important, when you leave a settlement, to leave cleanliness behind you.

- And there are those who go forward. Trails punch?
- Yes, with GPS, with locals sometimes. In the north, there were places where none of our team had ever been, so we had to take a guide from the locals, who often ride between settlements on their snowmobiles and snow storms. The leaders of the race with GPS go ahead with the local; it is necessary, among other things, to register tracks, routes, so that later to register a record. At the finish line, the editor-in-chief of the Russian Book of Records Alexei Svistunov set a record. I looked at the GPS, the tracks were registered, it was the declared route that was covered, the mileage, everything is fair. There were cases when mushers turned in the wrong place, left for a completely different place, and returned later. We had walkie-talkies, if the terrain and terrain allowed, it was possible to contact by radio, and volunteer snowmobilers came and took us back to the track.

- Do doctors and rescuers accompany Beringia?
- Doctors are moving in parallel. We had two veterinarians and one “human” doctor. Most often, veterinarians were among the first to arrive in the settlement, so that the medications had time to thaw.

- Was it very cold?
- Not. You get used to. If at first the face mercilessly freezes, then it seems: oh, today is warmer than yesterday, as well.

- You smeared lard, ointment?
- No, I have never froze my face, because I constantly wound it up. I knew where I was going, this is not my first “Beringia”. I had with me a balaclava.

- Tell me how to dress?
- I moved on a snowmobile (on dogs, only the mushers move according to the rules of the race). On it, you are not very mobile, and there is a huge risk of freezing and falling somewhere, especially as it gets even colder at the speed of the wind. Especially when moving along the coast. Personally, I had a few jackets, a few pants. Naturally, you need thermal underwear, everyone had it. There is such a rule that the most optimal amount of clothing is three layers. But in fact, they turned out to be four, five, and 25. I had a special snowmobile jacket, which I put on over the usual jacket, so that everything was closed, it did not blow anywhere. Clothes should be waterproof: when you go, snow is thrown at you. It is better to have extra dry clothes. Once we were caught in a blizzard on the road, and we had to make an emergency decision about spending the night in the forest, right in the middle of it we were digging a hole. And lucky for those who were with a change of dry clothes.

- You were among them?
- No, it saved the collective help. Only in this way it was possible not to get sick and continue the path the next day.

- Did wild animals come across on the route?
- Yes. There are a lot of traces. I often saw the fox birds.

- And the bears?
“The bears were still asleep at the time.” But we just drove through their hibernation places, almost over the heads of bears. Sometimes it was scary to stay somewhere, especially near the revealed rivers. You understand that the noise can wake the animal. And in Chukotka, we drove to those places where mostly wolves. And what about them to be afraid of? We have 200 dogs with us. Only a fool will do.

- Do the race participants have weapons?
- Of course. There were also guns, each member of the expedition had knives.

- In each team how many dogs could you have?
- Until 16.

- Are there any spare dogs?
- There are no spare dogs.

- Can I get a dog down?
- Can. But if you take it off, a statement is written, the vets fix it. This is a race, a sporting event, all by the rules.

- What happened to shoot?
- Of course, they were constantly filming for health reasons. And the mushers went the distance. Dogs don't go, what can you do? Either the judges decide that this horse will not continue the race for the reason that there is a regulation, and it is clearly written there that it takes at least eight hours to rest and restore the dogs. If the musher comes too late and this time period is not maintained, this is a gross violation of the rules and the basis for withdrawal from the race.

- Residents of places where participants spend the night, somehow participate in the "Beringia"?
- Sure. For residents, this is a huge holiday, event, and in each village they tried to arrange a small concert. And mushers, in turn, say words of support, gratitude, arrange some small performances - they dance, play musical instruments. Such a cultural exchange is obtained. Beringia is of great social importance. After all, initially it was a humanitarian mission, they took books to remote schools in the north, where there was no other way to get there.

- What kind of horse did you go with and what place did you take?
- We walked regardless of the musher; we accompanied the entire race. Snowmobiles were not divided into teams. Earlier, a cairo could bring a volunteer assistant with him, and volunteers assigned themselves to cues. But it is an expensive pleasure.

- What is the tourist value of race participation?
- This race is a unique event for the region, and for the country as a whole, and for the whole world. This is a demonstration of the strength of the spirit of the Russian people.

- Will you go or not?
- Yes.
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