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Join us for coverage of the 2023 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

On the Trail: Day 2 - Winners for the Beargrease 40 and Beargrease 120! Plus full-length marathon updates.

A team heading out from the starting line at Billy's Tavern on Sunday mroning.
Megan McGarvey (WDSE-TV)
A team heading out from the starting line at Billy's Tavern on Sunday mroning.

2:00 pm UPDATE – Nine teams have now arrived at Trail Center checkpoint. Ryan Redington's early fast pace, combined with less accumulated rest time has proved to be a factor that puts him further behind in the running. Most teams need 13-14 more hours of rest (to achieve the required 24 hours of rest), while Redington's team needs 15.5 more hours, and his team is already down a few dogs. At this point, Erin Letzring, Ryan Anderson, and Wade Marrs are mushers whose teams may cross the finish line first tomorrow afternoon. Though there are several legitimate contenders.

As Jason Rice explains, "Dog care, dog care, dog care. That's what wins the race." Mushers will let their dogs rest at Sawbill, but then will take a careful look at each animal before they depart to make sure that they are healthy enough to run the next leg of the race. In addition to team size, other factors to keep in mind as the race moves into the second half:

  • The forecast for some snow tomorrow afternoon could possibly be a factor as well; fresh snow can cause a loss of efficiency in the dogs' traction.
  • The temperatures are not going to get very cold, and dogs love to run in colder temps.
  • Teams who started with a slower pace at first may find they have the ability to pick up speed overnight and tomorrow.
On the Trail: Day 2 - 11:00 am update

11:00 am UPDATE - Wade Marrs has caught up to Ryan Redington on the Trail as they approach the Trail Center checkpoint. Both teams, however, are behind on their rest compared to Erin Letzring and Sarah Keefer who are not far behind on the trail in 3rd and 4th places.

On the Trail: Day 2 - 8:00 am report

8:00 am - Congratulations to Ashley Thaemert, the winner of the 2022 Beargrease 40, crossing the finish line yesterday with a total time of 2 hours, 57 minutes, 30 seconds! Dusty Klaven placed 2nd, just 90 seconds longer on the trail than Thaemert, and Ann Stead placed 3rd.

Also, the Beargrease 120 race finished early this morning. Rita Wehesler (a long-time participant in Beargrease races) and her team acquired their first win, crossing the finish line just after 3:59 am with a total trail time of 17 hours, 7 minutes, 8 seconds. Mike Bestgen placed second [17:09:53], and Joanna Oberg placed third [17:25:16].

In the full-distance marathon, Ryan Redington, the 2018 and 2020 champion, pushed his team to an early lead, choosing to leave the Sawbill checkpoint earlier than his competitors. Jason Rice speculates that his faster pace might be a strategy to wear out other teams that try to keep up. It is a strategy that has sometimes worked for him in the past, but sometimes has backfired; in 2019 his team faltered in the final leg, allowing Blake Freking to pass him for the win. However, his team has decreased by three dogs (from 12 down to 9), and his early departure creates for his team a rest deficit that will have to be made up later in the race. Will his smaller, faster team be able to hold the pace?

Chris Harwood is The North 1033’s Production Director and (acting) Program Director, a morning/daytime host, and the host of Soul Village. He is also a musician, a music historian, an audio engineer, and an avid record collector.