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The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Announces Race Changes for 2019

Sep 22, 2018 08:29AM ● By Editor
Photo:  Hella Buchheim, Up North Woods Images

From Business North - September 21, 2018

Fall is in the air and anticipation of the first snow fall has some folks in

Northern Minnesota thinking about just one thing: The Beargrease.

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, North America’s Premiere Sled Dog Race Series, is celebrating its 35 th Running and race planning has been underway for months. It’s not your typical year for The Board of Directors, they had to make some critical decisions for the year at hand.

“The sport of sled dog racing is expensive, and in all honesty, is an enormous amount of work.” States Frank Moe, Beargrease Board of Directors and Sled Dog Musher. “The reality is that mushers are signing up for shorter races that they can run fewer dogs in, especially earlier in the mushing season.”

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon had a decision to make and after months of planning, is announcing that the 2019 marathon is being shortened to 300 miles. This decision was not made lightly and was based on discussions held at the 2018 Musher Wrap Up Meeting. “It’s always hard to make a decision that changes the race to this magnitude.” States Monica Hendrickson, John Beargrease Sled Dog spokesperson. “But if we don’t align our organization with the goals of our teams – we don’t have a race”. The Board of Directors also

voted unanimously to lower the team requirement from a mandatory 14-dog-hitch to a 12-dog-hitch at the start of the Marathon.

The shortened race at 300 miles is still not an easy task and will still be the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states. Running through the Sawtooth Mountain Ridge on the North Shore of Lake Superior is challenging even for a seasoned-competitor. Many mushers lay claim that the Beargrease is physically a harder race than some of the longer races in North America like the famed Iditirod in Alaska. The ever-changing climate and constant elevation changes require the musher be in top-shape, they can’t rest on the runners, they need to

run with their team or they risk tiring their team early on in the race.

In addition, the mid-distance race has appropriately been named Beargrease 120 and the recreational class race will be named Beargrease 40. The Beargrease 120 is the most popular and competitive mid-distance sled dog race in North America.

Not only are there technical changes to the race, but there are also special plans for the 35 th Running. “The Beargrease isn’t about 1 person, 1 community or 1 county – it’s about our entire region and celebrating the history and culture of those who live and work here”. says Hendrickson. “It’s an economic driver in the dead of winter and we are proud to have so many sponsors, volunteers and partners in all three of our counties, St. Louis, Lake and Cook Counties”.

In 2019, Race Officials have decided to change it up a bit. The Race will begin in Duluth and end at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino, a long-time premiere partner of the race. Special events and local celebrations will take place throughout the year up and down the North Shore.

To read the rest of the original article and other stories from Business North, follow this link.

Full details about the race event locations, times and tickets will be shared on the official website as well as events on the Facebook Page @Beargrease.

For further information on events, contact [email protected].

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