Beargrease wraps up with musher awards

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Mushers and teams are headed home to rest after the 39th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

The race wrapped up with a closing ceremony Wednesday morning. The top 10 mushers were recognized, and a few were given special awards.

The volunteer veterinarians choose one musher to name “Best Kept Team.”

“This year was a very hard year because so many teams, you all looked so good and your dogs looked fantastic, especially coming into that finish,” Head Vet Dr. Katie Neshek said.

They gave Sarah Keefer’s team an honorable mention, but the award went to Canadian musher Jesse Terry. He said he was accepting the award, but it really should go to the handlers since they took care of the dog team while he rested at checkpoints.

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Kristen McCarty received the Sportsmanship Award for being particularly helpful to other mushers on the trail. Nick Vigilante was Rookie of the Year.

And every year, the final musher to cross the Grand Portage finish line receives the Red Lantern. Another Canadian, Andy Heerschap, was the 14th and final finisher.

“This has really been a dream come true,” Heerschap said. “I’m really proud to be part of this group and get to the finish line this year.”

He had started the race in 2022 but scratched 225 miles in at the Skyport checkpoint.

Catch up on all of WDIO’s Beargrease coverage here.