Beargrease Mushers Wrap up Race Training

Baihly Warfield
Updated: January 25, 2018 05:24 PM

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is just around the corner, and mushers and their teams are squeezing in a last few training miles. 

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Husband and wife Blake and Jennifer Freking are both getting ready. It's a tradition for their family. 

"I ran my first Beargrease in 1995 when I was 14," Jen Freking said. 

She said her mom had hoped it might take care of her desire to do long-distance mushing but no such luck. 

"I definitely had Beargrease fever," Jennifer said. 

This year, she'll be one of 30 mushers running the Beargrease mid-distance race. 

"It's fun and challenging, and it's just so great to be out there with the dogs and just traveling down the trail," she said. 

Once she finishes at Trail Center on Monday, she can cheer on her husband. 

"I do think it will be a great race," Blake Freking said. "There's some good teams signed up."

He will be competing against nine others, vying for his second Beargrease victory. 

"We've had really good snow conditions since first of November, so we got on the sled early, and trails have been great ever since," Blake said. 

He said Wednesday he had 14 or 15 dogs picked of the 16 dogs that will make up his team. 

"Everybody's been healthy and good. It makes the selection process more difficult, really," Freking said. "I started the season with about 20 that I was choosing from."

The advantage of keeping about 60 dogs at Manitou Crossing Kennels north of Finland is Blake and Jen can decide which dogs would be better for the mid-distance and which are ready for the full. 

"Everybody's more than qualified and really good to go," Blake said. 

For her training, Jen is doing about 25 miles per day. Blake said he peaks at 60 miles per day. The dogs have also been eating extra calories over the last week and a half so that they have extra fat on their bodies before the race begins on Sunday in Two Harbors. 

"It's my happy place," Jen said. 


Baihly Warfield

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