A Family Sport: Four Frekings Finish Beargrease Races

Baihly Warfield
Updated: January 30, 2019 07:23 PM

GRAND PORTAGE, Minn. - Mushing is a family sport, and last night's Beargrease finish was a great example. 

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Blake Freking arrived at the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino around 7:30 p.m., wining the nearly 300-mile sled dog marathon. And two hours later, his wife Jennifer rolled in as the runner-up. 

"Dream come true, I guess," Jennifer Freking said. "That's pretty awesome."

Finishing in the top two spots was a dream they weren't sure would become a reality while the musher couple was out on the trail. Blake and Jennifer didn't see too much of each other once the race was underway. 

"I'd be able to get in, take care of the dogs, and I'd try to get a few minutes of sleep," Blake said. "And then I'd be getting up to head back out by the time she was rolling in."

The Frekings haven't had this experience in 10 years. Usually, they sign up for different races. 

"It's really fun to run these races together," Jennifer said. "We haven't actually run a marathon together since 2009, since before kids."

Although having their own kennel, Manitou Crossing, means they have to pick their teams from the same pool. Blake joked there is plenty of bartering in their house before the race begins.

"It's always an interesting thing the few days before the Beargrease," he said. 

But both Frekings had strong teams this year. Jennifer came in with all 12 dogs she started with, a somewhat unusual feat in a tough marathon like the Beargrease.

"When you're running a run, you're like, yeah, they'll probably slow down a little bit. But when they just keep firing away ... they never cease to amaze me," she said. 

Their dogs are a part of the Freking family, which is bringing up another generation of mushers. 

Elena and Nicole Freking both did the Cub Run last weekend and are carrying on the tradition. 

"Four Beargrease finishers here," Jennifer said. "It's awesome."

Many people have been asking what happened to Ryan Redington. He was almost two hours ahead of Freking when he left the last checkpoint, but his team stalled, and he finished in sixth. 

At some point on the last leg of the race, Redington couldn't get his remaining six dogs to keep running. A race official said many mushers had that problem during the last leg of the race. They had to make frequest stops to snack the dogs to keep their energy up to finish the race. 


Baihly Warfield

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