Beargrease Marathon's Opening Ceremony Draws in Full House

Emily Ness
Updated: January 25, 2020 11:08 PM

Time is ticking down to the trek of a lifetime for racers and their sled dogs, but before they take to the trails, they shared one last supper together at Beargrease Marathon’s Opening Ceremony Saturday.


“We couldn’t be happier,” Monica Hendrickson, race spokesperson said. “Our communities are amazing, our mushers are amazing and we’re ready to hit the trail tomorrow.”

As folks wrapped up their meal and made final bids on silent auction items, the luck of the draw began. Each racer received a number that would determine their order of take-off.

Some were happy about their results. Nicole Grangroth, fourth time competitor at Beargrease will start first in the Beargrease Junior 120 race.

“It’s exciting,” Grangroth said. “I have a brand new team this year so I’m excited to see what they can do.”

Others had different thoughts about their results. Justin High, first time competitor in Beargrease with start 18th in the Beargrease 120 race. Originally from Alaska, he says this race will be new to him.

“This is kind of shorter and faster than what I’m used to so we’ll see what they do,” High said.

Longtime volunteers and handlers are helping racers ride out their journey ahead. 

“Everybody really has the same mentality of you know, ‘what’s more fun than spending a day out in the woods with your dogs?’ and everybody here is really passionate about their dogs,” Mike Schultenover, Handler for Maple Ridge Kennel said.

Throughout time, that shared passion has united many.

“I’ve made friends over the years, I’ve seen several of them so far and I’m always willing to make new friends,” Darrell Knecht, long time volunteer said.

Closer than friends are two sisters. Both have competed in the past, but this year Brenna Grangroth’s goal is to make sure her sister Nichole has the best run that she possibly can.

“It was our first race that we’ve ever done so it holds something special to our heart so its always fun to come back and do it every single year,” Brenna said.

At the closing of Beargrease Marathon’s Opening Ceremony, organizers emphasized that mushers and their sled dogs would come back with countless stories.

“To hear what happens between the dog and the musher—the spirit that’s happening on the trail. There’s a lot of comradery on the trail with the mushers helping each other out and pushing those younger mushers so there’s a lot of training that happens on the trail as well,” Hendrickson said.


Emily Ness

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