Staying warm on the Beargrease trail

At 10 p.m. Monday, mushers and teams were 36 hours into the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. And conditions have stayed frigid.

Temperatures have been below zero, especially on the Gunflint Trail, which is where most of the race happened Monday. Nevertheless, mushers, race officials, volunteers, and photographers were out there.

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“I think the conditions are great. I think the dogs love it because it’s really, really cold in the mornings. And it’s just a beautiful day. It’s sunny. What’s not to love?” Photographer Jean Burns asked.

Even though she’s from south Florida, she fully embraced the cold snap.

“I have photography gloves on because I came up here to photograph the race. And they have these nifty little zippers so you can keep hand warmers in here,” she said. “I have my Wintergreen attire from Ely, Minnesota, where I also have a little house. And I have my Steger Mukluks, also from Ely, Minnesota. And they keep you really warm.”

It didn’t bother mushers as they started racking up the miles.

“We’re fine with it. I wish we had a little more acclimation to it as humans,” Ryan Anderson said.

His strategy was layers. On hilly stretches of the trail, the mushers will run alongside the sled, and Anderson said the physical activity would warm them up too.

Musher Nick Vigilante’s strategy was “try not to focus on it.” He planned on wearing lots of clothes and having lots of handwarmers.

“Typically wearing, I don’t know, $1,500 worth of clothes when you’re out there,” he said.

Darrell Kinecht of Elma, Iowa, was volunteering for the 8th time. He watches the road crossing at Two Island Campground.

“Walking around quite a bit. I’ve got more layers on than I think I’ve ever had. I’ve got my little fire going here. Got the truck running,” he said. “So between all of them, I’m surviving.”

He warmed up a beef stew for lunch too.

With cold conditions like this, the trail is hard-packed and fast. A winner is expected to cross the finish line sometime Tuesday afternoon or early evening.

Track the race and follow WDIO’s coverage here.