January 05, 2018 10:43 PM
There are plenty of people excited about the Northland's prolonged cold snap. For organizers of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, it means snow on the trails is packed down and frozen in place.
Around this time last year, there were puddles in some areas, and they were looking at options for other routes.
"The one great variable is the weather," Beargrease board member Jason Rice said. "This year, we've started off cold, not super snowy."
They could use a little more snow between Two Harbors and Finland, Rice said.
"Up on the northern end of the trail ... Finland on up to the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, they've received quite a bit more snow than we have," Rice said. "So the trails are looking really nice up there."
The route is going to be identical to the 2017 Beargrease. The start will be in the Two Harbors gravel pit, Grand Portage will be the turnaround point with a mandatory eight-hour rest, and Billy's Bar in Duluth will be the finish.
"We try to stretch this thing up and down the shore," Beargrease President Mike Keyport said. "We try to involve as many people as we possibly can."
The offseason is spent gathering up volunteers, sponsors and permits to put on the race. Rice said they can always use more volunteers, and they can sign up here.
"All these other 51 weeks of the year we spend planning for this, we look forward to actually getting all the volunteers and the spectators and the mushers and the dogs and the vets, and getting everybody together," Rice said.
This year, the mid-distance race is especially popular.
"We've got 32 teams that are going to run the mid-distance as opposed to about 16 or 17 that we had last year," Rice said.
There are many people with smaller kennels who enjoy that race, Rice said.
So far, there are eight teams slated to run the full marathon, but they hope to get a few more entrants in the next few weeks.
"It's a great North Shore race," Keyport said. "Good ol' John Beargrease ... made quite a mark here on the North Shore, up and down the North Shore, and it's just great that we still honor him every year."
There are a few events leading up to the start of the Beargrease.
On Wednesday, Jan. 10, there is a pint night at Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais. There will also be a traditional tapping of the keg at the Glensheen Mansion on Friday, Jan. 26.
The race begins Sunday, Jan. 28 and is expected to run through the 31.
Updated: January 05, 2018 10:43 PM
Created: January 05, 2018 03:29 PM
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