The start of 1,100-kilometer (683-mile) dog sled race intended to attract tourists to Russia's Chukotka region was postponed on Sunday due to a major snowstorm, a regional spokesman said.
A local official said earlier that the race - called Nadezhda or Hope - had started as planned.
"The weather conditions at present do not allow the first stage of the race to be run as normal, so the organizers decided to postpone the official launch until the end of the blizzard," the spokesman said.
The race is now expected to start on Monday, but the organizers do not rule out further delays. They stressed, however, that everything was in place to successfully and safely hold the event, with checkpoints along the course stocked with food and supplies for the dogs.
Twenty-two dog drivers are taking part in the Nadezhda race, the longest race on the continent. It starts in the seaside Lavrentiya village and is due to finish in the regional center of Anadyr on April 17.
The length of the race was extended this year from the usual 412 kilometers (256 miles) to 1,100 kilometers (683 miles).
Judges and medical personnel will follow the racers driving off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.
The winner of the race will reportedly be given a snowmobile, while other participants will receive cash awards.
Chukotka's authorities hope the race will help promote the image of the region as one of Russia's leading centers for winter tourism.
The first intercontinental Nadezhda dog sled race took place in 1991. The 1,440-kilometer (895-mile) race, which involved dog drivers from Russia, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Norway, and Switzerland, started in U.S.'s Alaska and finished in Chukotka's Anadyr.
ANADYR, April 4 (RIA Novosti)
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