The 2018 John Beargrease Marathon Brings Big Crowds and Volunteers

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: January 31, 2018 11:09 PM

DULUTH - The cold weather didn't stop anyone from attending the popular John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Everyone came prepared and bundled up to watch the mushers and the sled dogs take off.

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The 52 mushers were lining up at the North Shore State Trail on Sunday. The event brings families together from all over the country.

It was the Martin family's first time at the event. They grew up watching dog sled marathons from their home state in Alaska.

"I guess I'm looking forward to see which dog team wins the race," Soloman Martin said.

"We know there's a representative here from Alaska. One of the Redingtons, which is a famous Alasken mushing family, so we're excited to see that he's here, the grandson of Joe Redington," Yael Martin said.

They were glad to have the campfire nearby and were also excited to be a part of this event together as a family.

"It's an old tradition that's lived for a long time and to relive it with the community is extremely important," David Martin said.

Ross Judkins, a long-time Beargrease fan, drove all the way from White Bear Lake to watch the marathon with his wife.

They've been coming to the Beargrease marathon for over 20 years. Judkins enjoys seeing the dogs.

"Watching all the dogs and the excitement that they have, and the excitement that everybody else has getting ready for this," Judkins said.

The event was filled with plenty of helping hands as well. Close to 500 volunteers come and help out to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Mike Sylvester, A local letter carrier, has been volunteering at the Beargrease for five years. As a letter carrier, he feels a connection to John Beargrease, who worked at the U.S. Postal Service over 100 years ago.

"This is how people used to travel 100 years ago, when there weren't cars and airplanes to go on. They traveled by dog sled and you look back at the history and this race and what John Beargrease meant to the North Shore," Sylvester said.

Chelsea Smith, a Fond Du Lac law enforcement student, was excited to be part of her first Beargrease event as a dog crew volunteer.

"I think it just brings everyone together. What's not to love about dogs?! I just never really see this as a Minnesota thing so I just think it brings a whole lot of people," Smith said.

Tradition and cute sled dogs brings families and volunteers together for the popular marathon, that has a historical and special meaning to all involved.

The mid-distance marathon ends Monday and the full marathon ends on Wednesday.



Alejandra Palacios

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