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John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
January 27 - January 29
35 Years of Mushing in Northern Minnesota:
The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
Established in 1980, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states, and is a qualifier for the famed Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska.
There will be 60+ world class mushers at this year’s race and over 500 volunteers from around the country.
Stay and Play all week long to enjoy the Beargrease. Take a peek at local lodging options here!
Both the John Beargrease Sled Dog Mid-Distance Race and the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon will finish in Cook County, MN.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite checkpoints in Cook County, MN. Read on below in the FAQ’s to get some good tips on the best spots to take a picture and enjoy the race!
- Sawbill Trail Checkpoint | Mandatory 4 hour layover (plus differential):
- Mushers first in on Monday at 5 am, last out Monday 12:30 pm
- Trail Center Checkpoint:
- Mushers first in on Monday at 10 am, last out Monday at 11 pm
- Skyport Lodge (Devil Track Lake) Checkpoint:
- Mushers first in on Monday at 8 pm, last out Tuesday 9:30 am
- Mineral Center Checkpoint | Mandatory 4 hour layover:
- Mushers first in on Tuesday 7:30 am, last out Tuesday 7:30 pm
- Grand Portage Finish:
- Mushers first in Tuesday 3:30 pm through last in Wed. at 4 am
Buy tickets for the Marathon Banquet at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino! Meet the Mushers, check out the canine athletes and hear stories from the trail!
Tickets can be purchased here.
Don’t forget to stop in to Lutsen Mountains for the Beargrease 120 (Mid-Distance) Finish!
Mushers start arriving to the finish Monday around 7 am and will come throughout the morning until 12:30 pm
There will be a banquet for the Beargrease 120 at Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen Mountians. Tickets for this event can be purchased here.
Estimated Checkpoint times for the 2019 race are here!
Directions to all of the checkpoints and finishes here!
What You Need to Know & Frequently Asked Questions
while watching the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
“Where are the best places to watch? How do I get involved in the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon? Can I bring my dog to watch the race with me? Will the mushers sign autographs or answer questions?” There are many questions we hear from fans and here are a few answers to help you get the most out of your Beargrease experience.
- Do NOT bring your dog to any Beargrease event! For the safety of your furry friends and ours, we DO NOT allow pets of any kind.
- Best viewing: if you’re going to the race start, come early to get the best viewing spot for you and your group. While the teams are getting ready for the race, there are some great opportunities to talk with mushers and see their dogs and equipment. Road crossings along the North Shore State Trail are great viewing opportunities, as are the checkpoints!
- Etiquette around the dogs and the mushers: be respectful of their space and their time. Our competitors are friendly and love talking about their dogs and this sport, but they’re also nervous and amped up about the challenge. Please ask permission before touching any dogs any time you encounter them – before, during or after the race.
- Photo ops: ask the musher before taking your best selfie with them or their dogs. Most of the time they will gladly pose with you. If you keep a respectful distance and aren’t in the way of their preparatory chores, you’ll find some amazing images to capture! The dogs are charismatic and their personalities and silly quirks are on display.
- Best starting line photos: the best vantage point to shoot from with a decent camera – about 100 yards up the trail from the start line. But stay OFF the trail itself as it is dangerous when the teams take off at top speed! Again, common sense and a respectful distance will make it a great experience with great photos to show for your consideration.
- Best “wilderness” photos: put on your mukluks and stake out a spot somewhere away from people and OFF the trail. The best shots we see each year are often taken from somewhere “in the trees”. It gives a feel of the surroundings while prominently featuring the dog team making their way up the trail.
- Parking: it’s always at a premium, and we reserve a lot of space for dog trucks, the veterinarian team, race officials and sponsors. Plan on walking to the hub of the action, not parking right next to it.
- Can I volunteer? ABSOLUTELY yes, and we’re counting on you! Please talk to a race official or visit the volunteers page to learn about volunteering. We LOVE our volunteers!
Highlights from the 2018 Beargrease
Brought to you by Carl Sauer