Beargrease sled dog race begins Sundayby Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio
DULUTH, Minn. — The 29th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon takes off from Duluth at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Ten mushers will compete in the 373-mile marathon race, which runs from Duluth up the North Shore to the Gunflint Trail near the Canadian border and back. Another 30 teams have registered for the mid-distance race.
The race was postponed in January because of a lack of snow, something race director Pat Olson said she never used to have to worry about.
"When I first got involved with this sport, this race went without a hitch the last weekend in January," Olson said. "We had plenty of snow, it was plenty cold -- it wasn't even a thought that we wouldn't be able to run this race."
Last year the Beargrease was cancelled because of a lack of snow after the first cancellation of the race in 2007.
This year Olson said trail conditions are good, although the course has been rerouted in a couple of places to spots with better snow.
The 40 contestants taking part are half the total that competed in the last race, Olson said.
"I just think that training conditions have been a challenge with the lack of snow," she said. "I don't think the economy has helped much. So for lots of different reasons, we saw a drop in numbers this year."