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Boreal Community Media

Spectator etiquette and schedules for the John Beargrease sled dog race

Jan 18, 2019 08:58AM ● By Editor

Dogs running in the 2016 Beargrease.  Photo:  Hella Buchheim

From Boreal Community Media - January 18, 2018

Expected finish points and times from

Established in 1980, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states, and is a qualifier for the famed Iditarod Dog Sled Race in A.  The race runs from January 27 to 29 and will finish in Cook County. 


The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is the longest race this side of Canada. We are looking forward to hosting 60+ world class mushers at this year’s race and over 500 volunteers from around the country. Join us for one of the best displays of dog athleticism in America!

Main race activities start on the weekend of Friday, January 25, 2019. Saturday is packed with events such as Vet Checks, Opening Ceremonies Dinner and Silent Auction. The race begins Sunday, January 27 and runs through January 30. 

Here are the expected finish points and times for the Beargreat 120 in Lutsen and the Beargrease Marathon in Grand Portage.

Beargrease 120 Finish:  Monday, January 28, 2019 in LUTSEN:
Join us at Lutsen Mountains Ski & Summer Resort for the Beargrease 120 Finish!
First Finisher expected at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, January 28 – Public Welcome!
Finisher Banquet at 3:30 p.m. at Papa Charlie’s, tickets $20 Purchase Tickets Here

Beargrease Marathon Finish: Tuesday, January 29, 2019 in GRAND PORTAGE: 
Join us at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino for the Beargrease Marathon Finish!
First finisher expected at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29 – Public Welcome!
Closing Ceremonies & Marathon Awards Banquet, Wednesday, January 30 at 9:00 a.m. $10.00

 Viewing locations and spectator etiquette from Visit Cook County:

There are many questions we hear from fans and here are a few answers to help you get the most out of your Beargrease experience.

  • Do NOT bring your dog to any Beargrease event! For the safety of your furry friends and ours, we DO NOT allow pets of any kind.
  • Best viewing: if you’re going to the race start, come early to get the best viewing spot for you and your group. While the teams are getting ready for the race, there are some great opportunities to talk with mushers and see their dogs and equipment.  Road crossings along the North Shore State Trail are great viewing opportunities, as are the checkpoints!
  • Etiquette around the dogs and the mushers: be respectful of their space and their time. Our competitors are friendly and love talking about their dogs and this sport, but they’re also nervous and amped up about the challenge.  Please ask permission before touching any dogs any time you encounter them – before, during or after the race.
  • Photo ops: ask the musher before taking your best selfie with them or their dogs. Most of the time they will gladly pose with you.  If you keep a respectful distance and aren’t in the way of their preparatory chores, you’ll find some amazing images to capture! The dogs are charismatic and their personalities and silly quirks are on display.
  • Best starting line photos: the best vantage point to shoot from with a decent camera – about 100 yards up the trail from the start line. But stay OFF the trail itself as it is dangerous when the teams take off at top speed!  Again, common sense and a respectful distance will make it a great experience with great photos to show for your consideration.
  • Best “wilderness” photos: put on your mukluks and stake out a spot somewhere away from people and OFF the trail. The best shots we see each year are often taken from somewhere “in the trees”.  It gives a feel of the surroundings while prominently featuring the dog team making their way up the trail.
  • Parking: it’s always at a premium, and we reserve a lot of space for dog trucks, the veterinarian team, race officials and sponsors. Plan on walking to the hub of the action, not parking right next to it.
  • Can I volunteer? ABSOLUTELY yes, and we’re counting on you! Please talk to a race official or visit the volunteers page to learn about volunteering.  We LOVE our volunteers!
For viewing locations and directions follow this link to the website.

For more detailed race information and to learn about watching and volunteering for the race, follow this link to the John Beargrease website.

Video montage from the 2018 Beargrease by Carl Sauer

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here