Cold temps make for perfect race conditions at Beargrease start

Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 5:57 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The 2023 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is finally here.

On Sunday morning, dozens of mushing teams and hundreds of dogs gathered at Billy’s Bar just north of Duluth for the biggest sled dog race in the lower 48.

While the energy was high, the temperatures were low, but for a team of sled dogs, it was paradise.

“Sunshine, cold, blue skies. How could we ask for anything better?” said Marathon musher Jennifer Freking.

For long-time Beargrease racer Jennifer Freking, these temps are ideal for her Siberian Husky team.

“Our dogs tend to love the cold, but all sled dogs tend to perform better in the cold. We always say the ideal is ten below to ten above, and my dogs like it even colder,” said Freking.

For the Frekings this year, it’s a family affair with her husband Blake as their handler and even her daughter racing in her first-ever Beargrease 40 race.

“It’s team Freking! This year my kids are both handling for me as well, so it’s a whole Freking team,” said Freking.

Reigning Beargrease Champion Ryan Anderson hopes to grab his 5th Beargrease win, feeling confident in his team.

“We’re feeling really good this year. Training has been good. We haven’t seen that much cold weather this year, but the dogs should acclimate just fine,” said Anderson.

The cold couldn’t keep even the smallest of fans away. Everyone layering up to embrace the Northern Minnesota tradition.

The Marathon teams will arrive at the Sawbill Checkpoint, just North of Finland, Monday morning and finish the race in Grand Portage on Tuesday night.