MUSH! 2019 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Begins

Mushers and Dogs Race Through Bitter Cold

DULUTH, Minn.- Through rain, sleet, snow or hail, negative temperatures and the depths of the night, these mushers do it for the love of the sport, and the love of the Northland.

Barking and howling ring through the air, as the dogs stare down the 300-mile ribbon of white ahead of them.

“3…2…1… And there she goes!”

And then, they’re off!

Shooting forward with a burst of energy.

Their powerful legs kicking snow and ground aside.

“You just watch them work,” said Musher Warren Turman. “And you’re watching them all the time, watching each one, watching them just work and it’s a blast to see them work.”

As effortless as they make it seem, mushers and their dogs train year–round for the challenge.

“They have an incredibly expensive, high calorie diet that they consume, they’ve been trained and conditioned so that they’re physically ready to do this,” said Alex LaPlante, a Musher from
Esko.

“A lot of time was spent making sure no dog is particularly stressed.”

Mushers want to ensure that their dogs are in the right headspace.

Because out there on the trail, they’re all they have.

“As with any animal, they get really protective of their people,” said Marketing and Outreach Consultant for the Marathon, Monica Hendrickson.

“A musher and their dogs have a bond that is unbreakable. So that musher is gonna protect those dogs like they’re family, and back at ’em.”

Like all animals, each dog has their own personality.

Each personality, has its own role in the line.

“Especially this dog, my leader, if she hears a noise back here that’s not normal, she turns around to make sure I’m still there,” LaPlante said. “She checks on me is she hears something hit the sled to make sure everything’s ok.”

For the mushers, it’s a love – hate sport.

“While you’re there you kinda wonder, why you’re doing it,” said LaPlante. “I’m hoping to have fun.”

“There’s moments out there that are gonna be terrifying and there’s gonna be moments that are gonna be fabulous, and there’s some moments that are gonna be hard work.”

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