33rd John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Kicks Off
12 Mushers are Competing in the Marathon This Year
TWO HARBORS, Minn. -Dr. Joe Carson has been running sled dogs for decades, but Saturday was his first time competing in the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.
“I have no foggy idea what’s down the trail here,” said Dr. Carson.
The Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is the biggest dog sledding race in the Lower 48 states. The almost 400-mile long race draws mushers from across the country and Canada, and is a qualifier for the Iditarod, America’s longest dog sledding race.
This year 3 people, including Dr. Joe Carson drove all the way down from Alaska to try their hand and team, at the race.
“I’ve run dogs all over Alaska, I’ve done Iditarod a bunch of times, and we were looking for a new adventure,” said Justin Savidis, a Musher from Willow, Alaska.
Competitors also include: 4 time Champion Nathan Schroeder, 2-time champion Ryan Anderson, both from Minnesota, and Ryan Redington, whose grandpa Joe Redington Sr. founded the Iditarod.
“My grandpa ran this race in the late 80’s and the early 90’s and I’ve always been intrigued by it, and I’m happy to be here to race it for the first time,” said Redington.
While some are racing to win, others are using the Beargrease as a training for the Iditarod.
“This is going to be a good warm up for my dogs for Iditarod. It’s the closest thing I can replicate the Iditarod down here,” said Redington.
Though the Beargrease is famous for its beautiful scenery and rugged terrain, the race holds a deeper meaning for many Northlanders. It’s named after John Beargrease, the son of an Anishinaabe chief, who delivered the mail up the North shore by Dogsled.
“That’s the only communication they had with the outside world, a lot of them, you know, because they didn’t have highways or freeways like we have now,” said Marie Spry, the Vice Chair for the Grand Portage Tribal Council.
For Dr. Carson, racing is in his blood.
“Why do you breathe?” Dr. Carson questioned when asked why he races dogs. “It’s almost that essential, as a true Alaskan, to be doing those things which your heritage your ancestors… Many many generations have done.”
And though the mushers are all competitors, they all have one thing in common. Their Love for dogs.
“I love being with my dogs. There’s nothing better than being out there with your team,” said Savidis.