A doggone good time: “Fur-K” starts unofficial kickoff to Beargrease Marathon

Published: Oct. 22, 2022 at 3:14 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon doesn’t start until next year, but that didn’t stop dog owners from racing with their own pups.

The “Fur-K Festival” hosted by the Beargrease Marathon featured both 5K and 10K races where racers could run around Duluth alone or with their furry friends. The 2023 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon starts right in Duluth on January 29.

Vice President of the Beargrease Marathon Board, Brittany North, has been hard at work gearing up for the race.

“I’ve been volunteering with the Beargrease for a number of years now,” she said.

North brought her dog, Panda, out to the races Saturday to hang with some other dog racers.

“The Fur-k Festival, is a 5K it’s a 10K,” North said. The events also featured local vendors and food trucks following the runs.

North sees the festival as the “unofficial” start to the marathon.

“Kickoff beargrease and raise some money to get the race going in January,” she said.

Mushers could also sign up for the nearly 400 mile race in Northern Minnesota. Some of them also ran in the races Saturday morning. Blake Freking, a two-time Beargrease Champion, was one of those racers.

He has competed in several marathons now

“I think around 17 or 18 marathons,” he said.

Freking is a well-known musher, who has competed in other famous dog sled races like the Iditarod in Alaska and Yukon Quest that runs through Canada. Along with his wife, Jennifer, they are exctied to train the future of the sport.

“Something that’s kind of new is we have children now,” he said, “and they’re getting to the age where they can start racing, so we’re including them in some of the races as well.”

The Freking’s own about 60 dogs that race in the marathon. Blake Freking said the racing community is very tightknit.

“It does lead down to that, you know, just getting everyone together once a year,” Freking continued, “like the dysfunctional family that gets together for Christmas kind of.”

The 2023 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon starts on January 29 at Billy’s Bar. For more information on the marathon, you can visit the official website here.