Almost perfect weather for the dogs
Posted at 9:22 AM on January 31, 2011
by Bob Kelleher
The 28th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is underway, with 24 dog sled teams racing up Lake Superior's north shore and back in the lower 48 state's longest dog sled race.
Here's some details from MPR Duluth news partners, Northland News Center. You can also follow the race on the official John Beargrease web site; which comes with lots of background information; musher bio's and such.
One thing particularly gratifying is the weather. Sunday's high temperature was 14 above zero - just cold enough for the dogs but nice enough to bring out a big crowd to see them off. Race temperatures look to be in the single digits above zero the next couple of days, with overnight lows in the single digits below. Running dogs might like it a little cooler than that, but that's a huge improvement over some recent years when temperatures shot up close to freezing (aka: melting).
And the trail looks pretty good, with lots of hits of fresh snow this winter. I recall many race trails that were much too hard and icy, which can injure the dogs and tear up their footpads. In fact, the softer trail might slow the race down a bit.
It's nice to have what looks like a normal winter up here for the Beargrease. Too many years lately have been either nearly snowless; or just too warm for January. I recall one Beargrease canceled a couple of years ago for lack of winter conditions. So far, this winter is just about right, and there's dozens of dogs running up the shore about now who agree.
The finish is expected Wednesday, with a leading team likely in to Duluth late Wednesday morning.