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Cold Comes For Beargrease; Wyoming Musher Sings To Stay Positive

Updated: 01/27/2014 11:20 AM
Created: 01/26/2014 6:45 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

No matter his mood and no matter the season, you'll find musher Billy Snodgrass singing as he dashes through the snow.

"The dogs like Christmas songs," Snodgrass said. "Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh, I sing that one all the time."

Snodgrass is from Wyoming and he's racing in the 30th annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

This is the second time he's been out for the race. Snodgrass was here for the Beargrease ten years ago.

"I got lost a couple times, almost froze to death, my eyes froze shut once and I swore I would never come back," Snodgrass said. "I said this is not my place; these are not my people, but here I am."

Who can blame his change of heart? The Beargrease is a good time.

"We're out here to take part in all the festivities and show our southern relatives all the good times in northern Minnesota," Karen Nolin said.

"It's cold definitely, but I love the dogs," visitor Christina Nolin said.

Even relatives of the race's namesake were at Duluth East for the start Sunday.

"My grandfather was John Beargrease, and I like all the sled dogs," Daebwae Chosa said.

Every year, the pups seem to steal the show, but the weather also had the spotlight Sunday.

"The cold doesn't bother me; it's the wind," musher Nathan Schroeder said. "I hate the wind."

Schroeder is the defending champion of the race and said bone-chilling temperatures will be hard to deal with.

"I like it about 0 to 10 below, but it's suppose to get 30 below," Schroeder said. "I guess we'll just bundle up and work through it."

That positive attitude is what keeps these mushers going, and a little singing never hurts.

"If you're not having fun, don't mush with us," Snodgrass said.

The mid-distance race wraps up Monday at the AmericInn in Tofte. The awards banquet is that day from 5 to 7 p.m. at Birch Grove Community School.

The marathon finishes Wednesday at Billy's Bar in Duluth. The awards banquet is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Black Bear Casino.

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