Iron River, WI (NNCNOW.com)-- It's less than a week from the commencement of the 29th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog marathon.
It's been a bumpy ride leading up to the 390 mile race up and down the North Shore. With last year's cancellation, and a postponement earlier this year, mushers and their dogs are literally jumping with anticipation.
Nestled deep in the northwoods of Wisconsin is Andrew Letzring's army of dogs, waiting for the Sunday start.
"I think it's one of the toughest races around," said Letzring. "I've run Iditarod and watching teams run the Beargrease going up and down those hills up the North Shore. It's not an easy race to hold a dog team together."
Letzring and his dogs are just days away from the annual race, and are training near Iron River, Wisconsin.
"We're amped up for it. It's my favorite race of the year and having it canceled last year, we're coming out strong this year," said Letzring.
Letzring says with the cancellation in 2012 and a smaller field in 2013, the contest will be spirited.
"Now the teams are getting so competitive. Almost any year entered can potentially pull away with it."
Competition aside, the Beargease is a bonding experience for man, and his best friend.
"I mean you spend 18-20 hours a day with the dogs either feeding or scooping, running or just hanging with them in the yard. I mean after a while they're like your kids," said Letzring.
The Beargrease kicks of Sunday at 1 p.m., from Jean Duluth and the Riley Road in Duluth.