Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)
The dogs want out and the people want in on the Riley Road just north of Duluth. It's...
"The 29th annual John Beargrease sled dog marathon up the North Shore and back. The great Northland tradition continues." proclaimed race announcer Ken Buehler.
The 373 mile marathon and 106 mile mid distance race named after a 19th century Anishinaabe mail carrier was cancelled last year due to lack of snow.
It was postponed this year for the same reason.
"After last year, that huge disappointment, and then this year did not look good and there was some serious sweating going on and all of a sudden, good old Minnesota kicked in and we got snow." said trail boss Geoff Vukelich.
The six inches of snow that fell the day before indeed saved the day, giving mushers like Finland's Jennifer Freking the chance to be an autograph signing celebrity.
"I remember being the kid getting all the signatures back in the 80's and running around getting all the champion's signatures so it's fun to be the person they're looking up to." said Freking.
"As the dogs get into position, we camera people get into position as well; down low for the dog's eye view of the start." said reporter Dave Anderson along the starting line.
"Three, two, one, go!"
The new snow is a mixed blessing for the mushers. It will slow down the dogs and put extra strain on them.
Jennifer Freking's husband, Blake, has a strategy for that.
"Because we have Siberian huskies, we're going to try to rest as much as we can during the day and run as much as we can at night."
This year, most of the mushers are from our region.
That will keep the Freking family sticking strictly to their strategy.
"There are quite a few competitive teams in the race and we're going to do what's best for the dogs and have a good time." said Freking.
And keep up a good pace. Adam and Billy Koecher from Mahtowa make up just one of the teams that has vowed to give the Freking's a run for the race purse money.
In Duluth, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.
It's estimated the mid distance race will finish tomorrow.
The marathon will finish on Wednesday.