Beargrease Marathon Kicks Off

More than 40 Teams Compete

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With a starting line in the North Shore due to the lack of snow, the 31st annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon kicked off this weekend.

With just minutes before the race the anticipation is high.

The countdown starts and then they’re off.

“Everybody passed their vet checks and is good to go,” said musher Amanda Vogel.

Vogel is just one of more than 40 teams to take on the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states.

“We’re using this as our last Iditarod qualifier,” said Vogel. “So hopefully we can finish past and move on to Iditarod.”

This is not her first Beargrease.

“We took rookie of the year,” said Vogel. “We were the only rookies to finish.”

While she is skilled, trail conditions and heat are a bit troubling.

“Typically you need at least 6 inches of paced snow to hook a team down,” said Vogel. “Secure them, stop them and we just don’t have that on the trails right now, so that is a bit of a concern. But hopefully it just goes ok.”

The marathon course is predominately on the North Shore trail.

“Starts from here, goes up to Finland, Sawbill, Trail Center up on the Gunflint, back to the end of Devils Track Lake and then all the way back down,” Beargrease Race Marshall Dan Bergerson said.

The trail is shorter this year, 319 miles long.

Race officials say the route is more logistically sound and safer for the mushers and their dogs.

“It took a lot of work, a lot of phone calls, emails, meetings,” said Bergerson. “But we made it happen, the board was phenomenal to get this done.”

“I’ve never won it before,” said Vogel. “I wouldn’t say confident, but I think I really actually have a good chance, so we’ll see how we do.”

“Top mushers are expected to come back down the shore early Wednesday morning.

The finish line will be at Billy’s.

You can follow the race on the Beargrease official website.

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