BEARGREASE COUNTDOWN: Organizers hoping for colder temperatures ahead of race

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 4:28 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The 2023 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is just over a week away, and volunteers are working hard to ensure the trails are ready for race day.

Those volunteers make sure all of the 300+ miles of trail are marked and packed down as much as possible for mushers.

Beargrease organizers said this winter’s wild temperatures and snow totals have not been ideal for trail conditions.

They said some areas are still pretty slushy, and they are hoping for colder temperatures as we get closer to race day.

“Think of it as running in sand versus running outside on the street. It’s going to be a lot more taxing on your body, and the same goes for the dogs. A nice firm trail, good snow, they’re happy and will cruise right up to Grand Portage,” said Brittney North, Vice President of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Board of Directors.

North said the ideal temperature for dogs to be racing is anything below ten degrees.

Vet teams along the Beargrease trail said when conditions are warmer, it adds an extra strain on the dogs.

“If they are pulling twice as hard through really deep snow, that impacts how long they can go and how much rest they need, versus if they are on a packed trail, then their conditioning does its job, and they are able to pull faster and pull longer,” said Katie Neshek, Head Veterinarian for Beargrease.

That was the reason many mushing teams dropped from the race and didn’t finish last year.

The Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon kicks off at Billy’s Bar in Duluth Sunday, January 29th.