John Beargrease Cub Run: Keeping the tradition alive

John Beargrease Cub Run: Keeping the tradition alive
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 6:55 PM CST
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TWO HARBORS, MN. -- Just about a week before the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, young mushers took to the trails to get into the marathon mindset.

The Beargrease Cub Run kicked off in Two Harbors Saturday afternoon.

It’s been around for about a decade, becoming a fan-favorite tradition.

24 young mushers readied their dogs to take off on runs up to two miles.

It’s an event that is not only a tradition, but history.

“A lot of tradition of dog sledding on the North Shore,” said Beargrease Cub Run Chairperson, Liz Busa. “Going back to our name’s sake John Beargrease who delivered the mail years ago. So, we just try to keep the history alive, for us and the kids.”

Most of these kids however aren’t taking to the trails for the first time.

For 12-year-old Elena Freking the howls of mushing dogs aren’t anything new.

“My mom has been running her own team since she was eight years old. My dad got into the sport when he got older,” said John Beargrease Cub Run participant, Elena Freking.

In fact, it’s a sign of tradition.

“Some kids are just getting a little taste of dog mushing. It’s pretty cool to have another generation of young kids doing it because not many people do dog mushing,” said Freking.

For Freking, the John Beargrease Cub Run is more than just getting on the trails.

It’s something that has been a part of her life since she was only four.

“I can remember when Elena Freking was a small one in our Cub Run,” said the Great Grandson of John Beargrease, Mike Keyport.

Freking’s father, Blake Freking, is a two-time champion of the Beargrease Marathon.

Now passing the torch onto her as she gets ready to take things to the next level.

“She will be running the 40-mile race starting next Sunday,” said Keyport. “I do think that we will very much see that some of the little kids out here will someday be our future mushers.”

Showing just how the story, and marathon of John Beargrease, has been kept alive.

“I just like running,” Freking said. “I think it’s cooler running with older mushers who have more experience. Just seeing them out on the trail instead of younger ones.”

Through this generation, and more generations to come.

Those trails may be quiet till next week, but more marathon traditions will hit the northland in the meantime.

Click here for more information about this year’s events.