550 KM | 341 MILES
Distances & Checkpoints:
Togliatti – 80 km / 50 miles – Sosnovjy Solonets
Sosnovjy Solonets – 62 km / 39 miles – Shiryaevo
Shiryaevo – 110 km / 68 miles - Uslada
Uslada – 83 km / 52 miles – Russkaya Bektiaska
Russkaya Bektiaska – 86 km / 54 miles – Ulyanovsk
Ulyanovsk – 62 km / 39 miles – Russkjy Bereg
Russkjy Bereg – 59 km / 37 miles – Bolgar
Fastest Winning Time: Arseny Turumin (RUSSIA)
39 hours 50 min 8 sec run time only
Defending Champion: Arseny Turumin (RUSSIA)
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Volga Quest is a celebration of the Volga River – the longest and largest river in Europe flowing from central Russia to the Caspian Sea – and the tapestry of very different cultures along its shores. Traveling 550 km (some 341 miles), dog teams will weave their way on the river and on land through old Russian communities to the muslim center of Kazan in the 8th to 16th century, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The race kicks off on the shore of the Middle Volga River, in Togliatti, dating back to the 17th century, today a big city of more than 500,000 people and home to the Lada car factory. From here dog teams set out downriver to reach the shores of the beautiful Samaskaya Luka National Park and the Zhihuli mountains. Climbing some 400 meters (1200 feet) the race crosses through an extremely varied terrain of limestone, floodplain, forest, and steppe to the old historic villages Sosnoyvy Solonets and Shiryaevo on the way to the tourist center of Uslada and the journey north up river to the finish line in the ancient Tatar city of Bolgar.
From the starting line in Togliatty 232 km (144 miles) to the checkpoint in Uslada, all teams stop every night in the two checkpoints along the way; however once the teams depart from Uslada the race is on non-stop till the finish line in Bolgar. Along this 290 km stretch (182 miles), it is mandatory for all teams to stop for a minimum of 6 hours in one of the three checkpoints along the way.
Besides Russian mushers participants racing in the past have come from Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. Racers can start with 12-8 dogs in their team and are allowed to end the race early some dogs, but must have 5 dogs in the team when they come across the finish line.
Each dog team is supported by their “official handler team” that is responsible for bringing all supplies to the checkpoints allowed during the race. The mushers can have some assistance from their handlers in getting their teams safely in and out of the checkpoints in the first short half of the race as well as receive supplies, but after Uslada during the second long half of the race, the musher can have no outside assistance; only exception being that handlers clean up the straw of their team when it has departed—and that a team of veterinarians are available to the mushers and their dogs throughout the course of the race.