Meet the dedicated team working hard all year to make this amazing race possible!
I currently live in SE Minnesota in the town of Stewartville, I am a captain on the Rochester Fire Department where I have worked the past 20 years. My wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary this year. We have 2 adult children, 7 dogs and 2 cats. I have been involved with the Beargrease since 2015 and on the board since 2018. Away from mushing I enjoy camping and golfing.
My first experience volunteering with the Beargrease turned into helping out as a handler for a team in need. I went to the UP 200 and a second Beargrease with that same team. Life got busy with grad school and having my son for several years, limiting my involvement. Once I found I had some more time again, I wanted to get involved in the race in a new and deeper way, leading me to join the Board of Directors.
I have been involved with the John Beargrease Dog Sled Marathon since the early 2000’s whether it was through spectating, helping my dad at vet checks, handling, or racing. My three year old son even participated in his first Beargrease Cub Run last winter. When I think about the race, I am reminded of how the North Shore communities come together to support mushers and their canine athletes as they honor the legacy of John Beargrease. If I am not enjoying the outdoors with my family and retired sled dogs, I can be found nestled inside with a book enjoying my introverted, quiet time.
I attended my first Beargrease in 2011 as a volunteer at the Sawbill checkpoint. Since that year my family has been involved in coordinating Sawbill and all of the fun and excitement that comes along with running an overnight wilderness checkpoint. There is nothing more magical to me than a group of dogs at a starting line, barking and screaming, who immediately go silent the moment the hook is pulled and they hear “MUSH!” I’ve fallen in love with sled dog racing and closely follow along with several races in both the lower 48 and Alaska.
I love camping and traveling with my wife and two dogs, and am an avid fan of, and season ticket holder for, Minnesota Gophers football.
The history, culture, and dogs keep drawing me back to the Beargrease. Having volunteered most years since 2003, I have made lifelong friends, learned about the sport and the history and culture of our region through my involvement. I bring a variety of life and professional experiences to my volunteer work with the Beargrease, which has helped in ways I never imagined.
I currently live in the Twin Cities and in my day-to-day life I am an operations manager for an optical company, where we manufacture eyeglasses for approximately 6,000 patients each day.
I have had experience with the Beargrease with varying levels for many years. For the most recent race (2022), I volunteered to assist with various tasks at the start and then worked with the checkpoint coordinators at Trail Center to support the volunteers, spectators and mushers.
I became a board member because I have always been inspired by the dedication, perseverance and passion that is demonstrated during the race and want to help to move the organization forward to create a better and more immersive experience for the spectators, volunteers and the mushers.
Amy serves on the board as the Director of Education. She finds artists who are willing to share their art with us on our trail mail. Integrating mushing, healthy outdoor activities and Native American Indian culture into her curriculum has been a passion of hers. She team teaches kindergarten with an Ojibwe language teacher and friend. Amy lives in Lakeville with her two dachshunds.
Blake Freking is a two-time Beargrease Marathon Champion and is a veteran of the Iditarod, Yukon Quest, Hudson Bay Quest, UP 200, Can-Am 250, Race to the Sky and other races. Blake and Jennifer Freking own Manitou Crossing Kennels near Finland, MN, where they raise and train their Siberian Huskies for competition in long distance sled dog races. Blake has also been training a team of Alaskan Huskies for Nature’s Kennel of MI for the last couple of seasons. Their daughters, Elena and Nicole, share their passion for sled dogs and enjoy training, racing, and caring for their dogs. Blake is an Engineer and Air Tanker Base Manager for the USFS.
I have been running dogs for about 7 years now and have raced in the BG-120 three times. Prior to racing, I worked for the Forest Service as a Firefighter in the summer and as the Boundary Waters musher in the winter. I am currently employed by Vermilion Community College (now Minnesota North) in Ely.
By day I am an aquatic ecologist and by morning, night and evening I am the luckiest parent. Even more fortunate is my family’s engagement in dog driving. I am a new musher with only distance training miles and a sprint race for experience. I’d like to express the most gratitude to my wife for her support to me and her love for the dogs!
I live in Duluth with my wife and two daughters. I have been working in healthcare most of my career and am currently a Data Analyst for North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. I watched my first Beargrease race from the starting line in 2008 and have been fascinated with this culture and event ever since. I want to be involved and remain participating with the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon as this event continues to inspire more people like it did me.
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Find out how to be involved in the Beargrease year-around.