Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)
Excitement; it's a three syllable word that barely describes the mood at the start of the 30th annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.
Two year old Walt Kostrewski of Hermantown has the fever.
"All he talked about are the dogs. Ever since we asked him this morning we have been good to go." said Walt's dad, John Kostrewski.
This year's race almost wasn't a go; in fact, it was almost cancelled.
However, a new board of directors made this race a reality in only three month's time rather than the usual twelve.
"We had a race that almost didn't happen. A lot of people pitching in and hard work and time to make it happen and here we are today." said race co-master of ceremonies, Kevin Jacobsen.
After several snowless and warm winters, the weather finally co–operated for this year's race start at East High School in Duluth.
"Conditions are really good. The dogs, the sleds are going to be running one really nice trail." said Beargrease president Jason Rice.
Some may not find the conditions so nice Monday and Tuesday mornings when temperatures are expected to reach 25 to 30 below.
Defending champion Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm is worried about frost bite on his dogs.
But,he says those temps will be even harder on the mushers.
"I think so. I would guarantee it is tougher on the mushers than the dogs!" said Schroeder.
"Since the original John Beargrease was an Anishinabe man, Native Americans from Grand Portage to Bois Forte gathered to pay tribute to him and were honored that so many other people did so as well." said reporter Dave Anderson.
"I think it is a very strong honor to see all of this; all of these people here and the way they honor his name." said Ron Boshey, great great grandson of John Beargrease.
John Beargrease passed away in 1910 after a lifetime of mushing along the North Shore.
Race director Jason Rice is honored himself to pay annual tribute to the man's spirit.
"It's part of our heritage. It's what we honor but we need to do a little bit more in remembering the spirit of John Beargrease that leads us down this trail." said Rice.
In Duluth, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.
This year's mid–distance race has 19 mushers and should finish some time on Monday.
The full marathon features nine teams and is estimated to finish Wednesday morning at
Billy's Bar just north of Duluth.