Erin Letzring Wins Her First Beargrease Marathon, First Female Champion in 23 Years

Letzring beats previous champ Ryan Redington by just 7 seconds at the finish.

DULUTH, Minn.- After an epic finish-line battle Tuesday evening, the winner of the 37th Annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon was first-time marathon musher Erin Letzring, beating out previous champ Ryan Redington by seconds in the final stretch.

“Doing good. We’re all tired and could use a drink of water, but we’re all doing good,” said Letzring, panting with exhaustion and emotion after crossing the finish.

The smaller finish line without spectators at Mineral Center in Grand Portage apparently wasn’t enough to dampen Letzring’s pride and excitement of being the first woman to win the Beargrease Marathon since 1998.

“Pretty cool,” said the champion. “Pretty neat to change that and get a woman back on top of the scoreboard here.”

For most of the last leg, Letzring and Redington were neck and neck. They said both of their dogs gave it their all.

“Came around a corner and then we saw them and then ok, I think we can make it we can do this,” Letzring said, “and so we just kept plugging along and these guys just had a little bit more in the gas tank.”

“When we got up on No Man’s Land my dogs picked it up,” Redington said, “and that was just a little bit too late.”

7 seconds separated the two in the end.

“I’d just like to say a big congratulations to Erin and her team,” said Redington, who was looking to defend his title from last year. “And I came here to win and I tried to run the best race that I could. I’m proud of the race that I ran.”

17 mushers ran the marathon this year. As of late Tuesday night, four more were still on the trail, while two were “scratched.” You can track their progress live here.

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