Beargrease Kicks Off Sunday After Two Years
Posted at: 03/10/2013 4:57 PM
| Updated at: 03/10/2013 10:38 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
Mushers have been waiting two years for the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, and Sunday it finally happened.
"It is finally here," Race Coordinator Pat Olson said. "After much planning, after much anxiety wondering, is it really going to happen this year? It is here and it's awesome."
The starting line was off Riley Road in the east part of Duluth and about 2,500 people showed up to see the mushers off.
"We've been waiting a long time to get out on the Beargrease trail again," musher Frank Moe said.
The race was cancelled last year and postponed this year, and mushers were excited to finally take part in the Northland tradition. While dog racers were awaiting the event's return, so were local businesses.
"I think we bring thousands of dollars to the area," Olson said.
She said people from all over the country come to the area for the event spending money in hotels and restaurants. Musher Billie Diver came in from North Dakota where she is going to nursing school; she's originally from Cloquet.
"I just came Friday after clinicals," Diver said. "This is my passion. This is what I want to keep doing for the rest of my life."
Several mushers agreed Sunday that snow conditions weren't ideal.
"It's probably going to be a little wet," Diver said. "It seems like we had a heavy snow. Hopefully it doesn't slow the trail down too much."
"I think it's a little deep right now," musher Maggie Heilmann said. "My dogs prefer more hard-packed trail. I'll just take it easy, make it fun."
At the end of the day, mushers said the comradery and history of the race are the most important parts of the event.
"We're good friends," Moe said. "We're all honored to be on this trail together."
The mid-distance race wraps up Monday and the marathon will end on Wednesday back in Duluth.