On the Trail: A preview of the 2022 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
Warmer temps and added snow may be a factor for this year's teams.
The field of competitors for this year's full-distance marathon is impressive in quantity (twenty-four teams, six more than the mid-distance marathon) AND in quality; all the champions from the last decade are in the field this year: Erin Letzring (2021), Ryan Reddington (2020/2018), Blake Freking (2019), Ryan Anderson (2017/2015/2011) and Nathan Schroeder (2016/2014/2013/2010).
Since 2019, the full-distance marathon has been shortened from its previous 375 miles down to about 300 miles, and no longer loops back to finish in Duluth, finishing instead in Grand Portage. The change changes how teams train for and plan the race. "It's more of a sprint now," says Jason Rice, longtime fan, three-time Beargrease competitor, and former Beargrease Board Member. With the total required rest still set at 24 hours, teams can train for quicker pacing because they know the rest allows them to push a little harder without wearing out.
But the temperatures in the daytime will be in the 20s, which in this sport is considered warm. There is also the possibility of flurries, so the warmer temps and the extra layer of snow may be a combination of factors that will frustrate the dogs a bit. Only time will tell, but Jason Rice predicts, "If somebody is really flying, it could be as early as four o'clock in afternoon [on Tuesday] that you'd see a winner."
Tune into The North 1033 on Sunday morning at 10 am for a live report from the start of the race, and then for live On the Trail updates Monday and Tuesday at 8 am, 11 am and 2 pm, featuring expert insights from Jason Rice, including results for the full distance Beargrease Marathon, Beargrease 120, Beargrease 120 Junior Class, and Beargrease 40 races.