Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- Months of preparation and training are finally being put to the test. The 28th Running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon took off earlier today.
And there they go...24 Mushers and their dogs are taking on the full race this year.
It's a 390 mile trek in the woods against the wintry elements.
41 Mushers are participating in the mid–distance race.
Organizers believe a record number of spectators saw the teams off today with crowd estimates nearing 8,000 people.
The feeling at the starting line was a positive one.
"We're fired up, we're ready to go. Up the trail it's going to be a little slow this year. We've got a lot of snow, which is great but it's going to slow the trail down a bit so it's going to be a lot of fun. A lot of strategy going into the race this year," said Bob James, Start Coordinator and V.P of the board.
"I thought the people riding the sleds were kind of cool because it's just amazing how fast they can go. If you really look at the dogs they were skinnier than I expected them to and it's just kind of cool watching the race," said 11 year old Jake.
This is the longest Sled Dog race in the lower 48 states.
Organizers say this is a unique race because spectators are able to view the race at all of the checkpoints...all the way up to the Boundary Waters.
The halfway check point is at Gunflint Lake.
The first Musher is expected to cross the finish line sometime Wednesday morning.
The race ends at Billy's Bar on Jean Duluth Road in Duluth.
We'll have more on the race tomorrow night.