Sled Dog Story Time: Children explore the history of sled dog racing in the Northland

Published: Jan. 7, 2023 at 3:13 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. -- Marcia Eiynck, along with her sled dogs, Sundown and Bella, stopped by the Duluth Children’s Museum Saturday.

“John Beargrease was my great-great grandfather, so the family has always kind of been involved in the race,” said Eiynck, the descendent of John Beargrease. “My Grandma is 90 years old now and that was her grandfather.”

Eiynck shared stories of the origin of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon which all started with her great-great grandfather.

“He grew up in Beaver Bay, and lived there, and raised his family there,” said Eiynck. “He was always with the dogs going up and down the North Shore hunting, trapping, selling furs. That turned into, when the Post Office and people started coming around, they needed to get mail up and down the north shore. They went to him and his brother to do that because they were already doing that.”

Children had smiles as they learned about the Northland alongside some furry friends.

“Having Marsha here, who is a descendent of John Beargrease, we felt like was a very serendipitous fit,” said Cameron Kruger, the CEO of Duluth Children’s Museum. “A great opportunity for us to show our audience this really cool thing that is a part of Minnesotan culture and apart of the Northland here.” Cameron Kruger

The marathon kicks off its 2023 season later this month.

Eiynck hopes the stories, and her dogs, show the kids how fun the sport can be.

“A lot of the kids, you know, I hope are going to start going to things like the cub run and see that there are other little kids out there that are mushing their own dogs,” Eiynck said.

All while keeping the memory of John Beargrease alive.

“The whole race is put on to keep John Beargrease’s spirit alive,” Eiynck said. “You know the old mantra of the race was “Catch the Spirit.”

The Beargrease Marathon is hosting more events later in the month including a cutest puppy contest, and a meet and great with this year’s mushers.