Longtime Beargrease Volunteer Shares His Love for the Event

Renee Passal
Updated: January 26, 2018 06:59 PM

The annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is rapidly approaching. And one man who can't wait, is Mike Levig. "This will be my 34th year of volunteering," he told us on Friday from his Duluth home.

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Mike is definitely visible at the starting line. "My main job is being in the chute, and bringing the dogs into the chute. Then there's the countdown, and we send them off, and then we bring the next team through," he said.

He's got a tan jacket that has plenty of Beargrease patches on it. "I'm a walking billboard, being 6'5"," he laughed. "People call me Big Mike." Eyewitness News has captured him numerous times at the starting line, in our video.

After the start, he usually helps tear down, and then jumps on his snowmobile and follows the teams. "We want to make sure there aren't any problems. I have a radio, so I can call ahead. Safety is number one, always has been." He figures he doesn't get much sleep during the event.

He's already been out on those trails, setting up markers and caution signs.

The retired letter carrier feels a real affinity for the history of the race. "I carried mail for 30 years, so like John Beargrease, I know the importance of going out there."

Levig told us he's only missed two races, because he was out of town. "I look forward to seeing all the other volunteers. Sometimes I only see them once a year. But we don't miss a beat. We're like musical notes. We have a beautiful song to play."

Just days ahead of the 2018 race, Levig can't wait to see everything get going. "The biggest part of the race is the people out there, people make the race."

And he definitely has a soft spot, for the little ones. "It's really a big thing, to get the little kids active. Basically we want to give them a spark that starts a fire, so hopefully they come back and want to mush some day."

Levig added that it's a real community event. "And good, clean fun!"

The race begins at 11am in Two Harbors. For more info:


Renee Passal

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