Meet The 2023-2024
Board Members

Meet the dedicated team working hard all year to make this amazing race possible!
Mike Keyport, President
I am a Member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Great Grandson of John Beargrease.  I have been involved with the Beargrease race event for quite a number of years.  I enjoy being involved not only for the namesake but to take my part in making sure the race continues in a safe, respectful, and cultural manner and brings great mushers, spectators, and volunteers.  It will be my honor to serve once again on the Board of Directors and bring my experience and knowledge forward to carry this great race to new heights.
Mickie Naperala,
vice president

My husband and I moved to Duluth almost 4 years ago but have visited this area for over 20 years. I joined the John Beargrease board to support and expand the mission of dog mushing with education and community involvement. I’ve been a spectator of the Beargrease events since moving here and when the opportunity to get more involved presented itself, I jumped at the chance. My enthusiasm and passion are usually contagious and I hope to bring that benefit to this organization.

Living in Duluth grants me access to the outdoors in many seasons and with my sidekick, a Siberian Husky named Yuka, we take full advantage of all the hiking and adventures.
I’m driven by a strong desire to give back to the communities I live in and have done so with hockey coaching, being a big sister, husky adoption organizations and holding a position on boards of activities that I enjoy.

My other hobbies are camping/backpacking, kayaking, photography and golf.

Shannon Benolken, Treasurer

I’m Shannon Benolken. I’ve been involved with the Beargrease for 7 years and for the last 6 years I’ve been the Treasurer.

I got involved with the Beargrease because my husband suggested it then I was asked to join the board because we needed a treasurer.

I am a Business Banker for Park State Bank and my husband and I own a small business and I do all the bookkeeping. I have an MBA with concentrations in finance and public administration and I have served on the Executive Committee of various nonprofits over the years.

I enjoy spending time with my family and my dog. I am an avid backpacker and hiker and I enjoy living vicariously through all the mushers.

Neil Torgersen, Secretary

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 2022 race, 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.

board member kirk
Kirk Weber

Hello, I am Kirk Weber and I am excited to be part of the Beargrease again this year.  I joined the board because I want to be part of the premier sled dog race in the lower 48 and preserve the sport of distance mushing.    My Wife of 26 years Kendra and I live in Stewartville, MN and recently started a small kennel I ran my first races this past season.  When I’m not with the dogs I am a full-time firefighter for the City of Rochester.  In my spare time I enjoy camping and golf.


board member jason
Jason Eiynck

Hi, I’m Jason Eiynck. I have been a volunteer in many roles with the Beargrease over the last 15 years. While I do no mushing myself, I enjoy the sport and the people and dogs in and around it. My wife, Marcia and I currently live in Sturgeon Lake, MN. We have 4 adult children out in the world, four huskies of our own, and two granddogs.  I joined the board to use my experience and expertise to help drive this race into the future. I look forward to seeing you out on the trail, and I welcome your thoughts on the race.

Austin Johnson

I Joined the board because this race means more to me than it would to most. I have been watching the race since I was a very young boy. My father owned and ran Billy’s bar for 20+ years and in all those years my family was there for every race, every start and every finish.


Watching this race continue to grow and thrive is my dream and goal. I want others to have the chance to see this amazing event. The Beargrease has something for everyone, and this race and the world of dog sports is my true passion. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to represent and work for the organization in every and any way I can. 


Alex Angelos

Alex works construction and enjoys hunting, fishing, and music.  He lives in Duluth, Minnesota. 

Shawn McCarty,
Marathon Musher Representative

I have been running dogs since 2006, and running in the Beargrease off and on since 2008.  I joined the board because I enjoy running the race and figured it was about time I take a turn as Musher Representative.  I want to see the race continue to be a great race for mushers to run, as well as a great chance for us to show the public what this sport is all about.  I am looking forward to seeing what we can do to make the 40th running special.


James tackeberry
Bg 120 Musher Representative


Board member Tom
Tom Marple

I joined the Beargrease board because I grew up on the North Shore and want to be more involved with this incredible race. My involvement in dog mushing comes through my older brother, Allen, who was an Iditarod musher/finisher, dogsled builder and race judge for the John Beargrease for many years. I’ve followed the Beargrease from its inception on icy roads up and down the Shore, long before the Internet. It’s an honor to be on the board and to be part of a World Class Event

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