Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - It takes a lot of training, endurance, and a hefty dose of north woods resilience to make the days–long, 390–mile journey from Duluth, up the Gunflint Trail, and back. But, the most basic necessity for mushers is a good base of snow.
According to race coordinator Pat Olson, that's exactly what a snowy February has given us for the weekend.
"We just need a good, solid base that will allow those teams will dig their snow hook in so they can stop their team," said Olson, in Beargrease HQ on Friday.
This year's race had already been postponed following a string of wet, warm weather, and Olson says hopes are high that nothing will get in the way of this weekend's start.
According to NNC NOW's Chief Meteorologist Adam Clark, however, there's a wet and windy storm on the horizon.
"We're going to start off with some freezing drizzle on Saturday—freezing rain—and then it's going to change over to snow sometime Saturday morning," said Clark.
In all, four to eight inches of wet, heavy, snow could be a factor on Saturday, and come Sunday, "temperatures will be down to around 22 Sunday morning, so we could have a little bit of ice on top of the snow," said Clark.
It's that ice, says Olson, which has everyone the most concerned.
"It's hard on dogs to have to run on those icy conditions, and it's not easy on the mushers, either," said Olson.
But, with temps hovering around 30 degrees during the day, Olson remains optimistic that the ice will be fleeting at best.
Organizers hope 20 mile–per–hour winds don't do anything to change that.
For anyone interested in joining the teams at the starting line Sunday, there will be a shuttle taking passengers from UMD to Riley Road, and back.
Officials strongly recommend it as a way to reduce the inevitable traffic congestion.
- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness