Beargrease Fun or Not

     I go between wanting to run a team of dogs during the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon to thinking it would be the most ridiculous thing ever to do.  At times it looks like alot of fun and at other times it looks extremely painful, not only for the musher but also the dogs and the handlers.

     Where I see the Beargrease being enjoyable is on the trails.  Traveling through the forest behind a team of well trained dogs listening to their feet and the sled glide across the snow sounds wonderful.  Even when the temperature dips to -15 f. and the wind howls mushers are dressed to face the elements and stay surprisingly comfortable.  The lack of sleep between the long miles doesn’t sound too bad and being able to mush beneath a star filled sky by the light of the moon would be incredible.

     What is it that doesn’t look like fun?  For me it would be depending upon the handlers to take care of the dogs and equipment and not being able to do it all myself.  When the dogs come into a checkpoint they need to be fed, watered, rubbed, dressed, blanketed and given straw to lay in. When there are 14 dogs that’s alot of work and the musher usually doesn’t help too much because they need to rest.  Most legs of the Beargrease take between 3-8 hours to travel and that’s a long time to stand behind a team of dogs on the rugged Northeastern Minnesota trails.   Standing back and letting others do the grunt work would make me go slightly crazy.

     Whether it is fun or not depends upon the definition of fun and the frame of mind one is in.  As a spectator I can tell you the Mush for a Cure is way more fun to experience than the Beargrease as the mushers and handlers are at the Beargrease to compete.  Operating on minimal sleep and not so comfortable living conditions can cause folks to be a bit grumpy.  Interaction with most of the teams and their dogs is practically forbidden at the Beargrease and quite welcomed at the Mush for a Cure.  Two things both sled dog events have in common are the volunteers, most from the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department members and the Trail Center Restaurant on the Gunflint Trail.

     These two things make both the Mush for a Cure and the Beargrease great events.  Sarah’s staff at Trail Center work their tails off to provide a warm and welcome environment for all to enjoy.  The volunteers and the GTVFD make sure the mushers can safely cross the Gunflint Trail and continue on their way back to Duluth.  

     If you’re interested in seeing photos from the Beargrease then visit and while you’re there become a fan of the page and head over to the Voyageur Group Page to become a member there.  And if you’re looking for a fun mushing event join us March 13, 2010 at the 4th Annual Mush for a Cure.