300 Mile North Shore Journey Ends at Beargrease Finish Line
Ryan Reddington, Keith Aili, Ryan Anderson first three to cross finish line.
DULUTH, Minn.- An exciting night in Grand Portage, as crowds gathered at the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon finish line to welcome the mushers with cheers and support as they completed their nearly 300 mile journey.
“The dogs know when they’re getting close to the end they can smell the smoke in the air,” said Race Marshall Stan Passananti.
Around 4:30 in the afternoon the first team scampered in, pulling Alaskan native Ryan Reddington in his bright green jacket. “We just took it easy in the beginning and then middle of the race we started to push,” he said.
Dogs immediately rubbed themselves in the cool snow, their bodies warm with energy, and due to the unusually high temperatures for this year’s race.
“We are 60 degrees warmer than we were last year,” said Passananti. A nuisance for many mushers, but not for the winning team.
“The warmer weather was a positive for us, a strength,” Reddington said. “We have dogs that run really good in warm weather so I’m excited about that.”
Both first and second place teams saw the weather as an advantage, crossing the finish almost four hours earlier than last year’s winners.
“Last year we finished in the dark quite a bit like, but the teams are finishing quite a bit earlier than I thought,” said Passananti.
But the last leg of the race was no easy ride.
“A mile from the finish is called no man’s land so they’re, they could pass and they could pass each other they’re going back and forth so y’know it’s definitely exciting especially between the 2 teams they’re from the same kennel so it’s gonna be exciting to see the finish,” Passananti said.
Reddington was neck and neck with Keith Aili for the last dozen kilometers of the trail.
“I knew he was running a good race and knew he was close,” said Reddington. “I didn’t know he was THAT close to me coming in there but he’s got a really good team of dogs.”
But in the end Reddington was victorious. Aili pulled in 16 minutes later, and Ryan Anderson 27 minutes behind him.
Now Reddington walks away with a second Beargrease win under his belt, his first being the 2018 race.
“I was so happy, so proud of the race we ran and the dogs,” he said.