No Spectators for 2021 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

Officials say they see no way to properly social distance the thousands that come out to the start.

DULUTH, Minn.- The 41st Annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is planned to go on this year, but it will look different as no spectators will be allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

Every year thousands of spectators gather at the start of the race at Billy’s Bar in Duluth.

But according to Beargrease spokesperson Monica Hendrickson, organizers saw no way to properly social distance the large crowd this year. “Safety has always been our number one priority for our organization whether it’s a COVID year or non-COVID year,” she said.

In addition, all buildings used along the trail in year’s past for the event will be closed.

Still, Hendrickson said, the race is too important to the mushers, dogs, and community to not happen.

“The mushers were begging us to really make sure we have this race: ‘is there any possible way we can do this race?'” said Hendrickson, “and so it’s hard to say no to the mushers.”

“It is pretty much kind of like the good ol’ days where it was ‘let’s just get the dogs on the trail and get them running,'”she said.

The race will still be streamed live on the Beargrease website.”We’re really hoping that people can still enjoy the race it’s not the same not being able to get out,” said Hendrickson. “People can get out on the trails though.”

According to Hendrickson, the race will take place at the end of the month on the 31st, but that could change with Governor Tim Walz’s orders or the weather.

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