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Beargrease 2024 Canceled Due to Lack of Snow

On Tuesday, January 2nd, the board of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon decid­ed that the annual race would not take place this year due to lack of snow. The over-300-mile race was scheduled to start in Duluth on January 28th. Instead, the 40th running of Beargrease will take place on January 26, 2025.

Musher Colleen Wallin from Silver Creek Sled Dogs was surprised the Beargrease board didn’t postpone the race until March 3rd, but she hopes to race at other venues this year. The UP 200, an Iditarod qualifier, is on her list. Wallin’s husband, Ward, has done that race many times, and they hope to do it together this year: he races, she handles the dogs. The race extends from Marquette, Michigan to Grand Marais, and Wallin loves that both Michigan and Minnesota’s Grand Marais are on Lake Superior. Wallin also mentioned that the WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race in Ely, MN is a fun race to finish up the season. One disappointment about Beargrease’s cancellation, though, is that Wallin’s son, Ero, will not be able to race with her this year, due to his baseball season at St. Cloud State University. Wallin remains positive, though, saying that the cancellation will allow her more time for winter camping and ice fishing.

Much of the Northland experienced the warmest December in recent history: 13 degrees above normal. This was the result of strong El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean. Christmas Eve 2023 was only the third time in 82 years that there was no “White Christmas”. Since Beargrease became an an­nual race in 1980, it has only been canceled twice before (2007 and 2012), and delayed once in 2013.

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Mara­thon is named for an Anishinabe man, John Beargrease, who was pivotal in the devel­opment of the North Shore. Between 1879 and 1899, Beargrease and his brothers deliv­ered mail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais. The weekly trip was made with loads weighing up to 700 pounds. While the broth­ers used a variety of methods to transport the mail, John Beargrease was best known for his winter travels by dogsled. His fastest trip was 28 hours from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. In 1910, he died of pneumonia after going out in a storm to rescue a mail carrier whose boat was caught in the waves near Grand Portage. John Beargrease was buried in Beaver Bay’s Indian Cemetery.

The race will be missed this year, but pend­ing snow, it will be back next January.

Haley Searls
Haley Searls
Hello! My name is Haley Searls. I’ve loved writing from an early age, though my nonfiction writing at five years old consisted mainly of weather and gardening reports. I still have some of those early articles: “It’s sunny.” “It’s still sunny.” “It’s raining.” I’m glad to say my writing has improved since then. I wrote a guest post for the Silver Bay Public Library blog, and was the writer/editor of the newsletter for my American Heritage Girls troop. I have been writing for the North Shore Journal since June 2022. Besides writing, I love reading, drawing, photography, music, and spending time with family and friends. Two books that have really influenced my writing are Reforming Journalism by Marvin Olasky and Writer to Writer by Bodie and Brock Thoene. As a journalist, I want to share positive community interactions and inspire people to make lasting connections. Article topics that interest me are ones which show community activities and involvement. Such articles include community events, youth accomplishments, library programming, small businesses, local history, local artists and authors, art programs, and cultural events such as theater and dance. If you have an article idea, email the North Shore Journal with my name in the subject line! I look forward to hearing from you!
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