Meet the Mushers

/Meet the Mushers
Meet the Mushers 2018-12-03T15:19:17+00:00

Marathon Mushers

Erin Altemus | Grand Marais, MN

Erin and her husband Matt have 35 dogs and a one-year-old daughter. Erin has done the marathon two times, but it has been a couple years. We have been racing for 8 years. Mush Lake Racing is located in the deep woods outside of Grand Marais, MN.

Experience: John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Race

Frank Moe | Hovland, MN

Sherri and I live in Hovland, MN with our 40 sled dogs, 2 cats and a pig. This will be our 20th year mushing and have raced both the Marathon and Beargrease 120 several times. It’s been 4 years since I’ve ran the Marathon and I’m excited to run the new route up to Grand Portage.

Sponsors: Nutrisource Super Premium Pet Food 

Ryan Redington | Wasilla, AK

Ryan Redington, 36, was born and raised in Knik, Alaska, and has been running dogs since he could reach the handle bars. Ryan and his family, wife Erin and children Eve, 4, and TJ, 3, now make their home in Skagway, Alaska and spend time in Northern Wisconsin training and racing. Ryan has run many races across Alaska and the lower 48 states. Ryan is the Champion of the 2018 Beargrease Marathon and is looking forward to running the race again as it is a great and challenging race.

Experience: John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Race (2nd Place in 2017 Race),  and 14th in the 2017 Iditarod.

Sponsors: Redpaw Dog Food,, Alaska X, AFS, Bruce and Tammy Caison, Sue and Dave McCarville, Bryan and Kay Gabbard, Laurie Thomas.

Mary Manning | Hovland, MN

I live in Cook County, Minnesota and have been running dogs for 20 years. I bought a used sled and got a “free” dog – I thought it was a cheap way to spend some time in the wilderness! My dogs and I have camped and raced from the BWCAW to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to West Yellowstone, Montana. I am thankful for the organizers, sponsors and volunteers who allow me to have amazing and wonderful race adventures!

Experience: John Beargrease Mid-Distance Race, Gunflint Mail Run, Midnight Run, Copper DogWolf Track, Apostle Islands, Taquemenon, Yellowstone Special, Hinckley Great Trail, Mackinaw Wilderness

Blake Freking | Finland, MI

Blake and Jennifer own Manitou crossing kennels and enjoy the lifestyle with their two daughters, Nicole and Elena.

Experience: John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Race, Iditarod, Yukon Quest, Race to the Sky, UP 200, Can-Am, Hudson Bay Quest

Jennifer Freking | Finland, MN

Jennifer and Blake Freking own Manitou Crossing Kennels near Finland, MN where they raise and train their Siberian Huskies for competition in long distance sled dog races. Jennifer is a veterinarian at the Ely Veterinary Clinic. She has been raising sled dogs since she was 8 years old, and enjoying sharing her love of animals and outdoors with her family and friends. She would like to wish everyone a safe and wonderful experience in this years Beargrease Races!

Experience: John Beargrease Marathon, John Beargrease Mid-Distance Race, Iditarod, UP 200, Can-Am 250, Hudson Bay Quest

Sponsors:Wintergreen Designs Ely, MN

Martin Massicotte | St-Tite, QC, Canada

From St-Tite in Quebec. When I was 8, I put on our house dog, a big St-Bernard!!! Then, one day, I saw a team of several dogs, and that’s when I realized that I wanted to harness more dogs. As a teenager, I was doing sprint races with 3 dogs and it was only in 1996 that I actually started doing long distance races, racing from 60 miles to 400 miles races in the same year, the Labrador 400. I climbed the ladder and I started winning the Can Am Crown 250 (Fort Kent, Maine) in 1998, then in 2018, I won it for the 9th time, five in a row. I did the race circuit in North East North America, but in 2003 I realized my dream of running the Yukon Quest (1000 miles), where I placed 6th. In 2015, I won the Hudson Bay Quest in Manitoba (220 miles) where I was at my first participation. In the near future, in 2020, I plan to run the famous Iditarod in Alaska. For the Beargrease Marathon, I would like to have a strong team and finish in the top 3. What I like most about dog sledding is to be in the nature, discover new territories and especially to listen to my dogs and to see that we are an amazing team between men and the beast.

Experience: Can Am Crown 250 Miles, Fort Ken Maine – Winner of the last 5 editions, Marquette Michigan (3rd in 2018, 2nd in 2017 and 2016), Yukon Quest 2003 6th position

Sponsors: KANUK and Mush Hi-Tech

Sally Manikian | Shelburne, NH

I always had a lot of conditions for myself and my team to feel prepared to sign up for this race: a cool enough fall in the unpredictable Northeast, finishing ‘one more 250 mile race,’ and the right spirit in the dog team. This fall I felt that right spirit in the dog team, and after doing my homework, and importantly no mushers trying to talk me out of it (and I gave them all ample opportunity!), I’m just thrilled to sign up for this race for the first time. It was either signing up for this race, or handling for my friend Chase in the Copper Basin 300 in Alaska. Sorry, Chase.

Home is the White Mountains of NH, where in addition to the 23 dogs of the kennel, I live with and care for my disabled brother and sister. The name of the kennel is actually a nod to my brother’s favorite TV show, the Golden Girls. A lover of mountains and wilderness, I worked in the backcountry of the White Mountain National Forest for a decade before shifting to a desk job working in land conservation.

Over 10 years ago, I worked for a tour guide company and after a few years of that, I realized I didn’t want someone in the sled anymore, I wanted to be alone on the trail with the dogs. 8 years ago I was able to start my own team with five semi-retired dogs from a friend, and entered my first race that year, a 30 mile race, and within two years entered my first 250 mile race. I love races for the challenge, to learn as much as possible, and to be out in the wilderness with the dogs. What I love the most about training a dog team for these races is building a team ethic.

Thank you my network of community and of support that makes it possible for me to train the team, and leave home for races.

Experience: UP200 (2018, 2017, 2016), and Can Am 250 (2017, 2016, 2015)

Sponsors: Cooper Hill Axe Works , RMC Ironworks LLC, Individual dog sponsors.

Beargrease 120

Nick Turman | Two Harbors, MN

Nick has been running the Beargrease races since 1992. He has also run the Apostle Islands race, Mid-Minnesota, Esslinger, and the Grand Portage race.

Experience: Beargrease Mid Distance, Beargrease Marathon, Apostle Island, UP200 and Midnight Run.

Matt Schmidt | Grand Marais, MN

Matt and his wife Erin and daughter Sylvia live with their 40 Alaskan huskies off grid in the deep woods outside of Grand Marais, MN. Matt ran the Beargrease last year for the first time and didn’t think he’d be back so soon, but the hills are calling his name.

Experience: Beargrease Marathon, CanAm, UP 200

Lynne Witte | McMillan, MI

Retired from teacher after 40 years in a primary classroom now to train and work with sled dogs. I compete in marathon canoes throughout United States and Canada. Currently serving as president of the Michigan Canoe Racing Association.

Experience: Midnight Run, CopperDog80, Yukon Quest 300, 2018 Beargrease Mid Distance


Dusty Klaven | Togo, MN

I am returning for my 8th Mid Distance Beargrease, the dogs and I are super pumped to test our skills and training this year. I am a 30 year old musher living in Togo MN, with a 30 dog kennel. I enjoy the relationship I have with my dogs and value what they teach me, both in the kennel and on the trail. Currently, I work as part of the bar staff at Fortune Bay Resort Casino. I’d like to thank my sponsors WanderLust Essentials LLC, Fortune Bay Resort Casino, Barn Yarns and my awesome handlers. We got this!

Experience: John Beargrease Mid-Distance, Tahquamen, Mid-Night Run, White Oak Classic, Apostle Islands, Wolf Track Classic

Sponsor: WanderLust Essentials LLC, Fortune Bay Resort Casino, Barn Yarns

Alex LaPlante | Esko, MN

Alex has been running dogs for Maple Ridge Kennel for the last nine years. She has participated in the Beargrease Mid several times. She loves playing with the dogs and the puppies.

Experience: John Beargrease Mid-Distance Race

Darcy Stanley-Nord | Milaca, MN

Teacher by day musher by night. Gonna play with the big kids this year if we can get in the training(fingers crossed) This race continues to be a favorite. Its the race that I can see all my musher friends and hero’s all together in the same room. Looking forward to another great race.

Experience: John Beargrease Recreational Class Race, Wolf track classic, Winter Warrior, Apostle Island, Mid-MN, White Oak classic, City of Lakes Loppet

Liza Dietzen | Wallace, MI

We are currently working towards running the Iditarod in 2021. We have 2 of our three qualifiers complete. Our final qualifier will be the Beargrease Marathon but as our puppies grow up this year, we are playing around with some of the longer mid distances races this year.

Sponsors: Northern Michigan University, Jean Kays Pasties and Subs, Centerline Machining and Grinding

Travis Vanderhoof | Shell Lake, WI

I live in Shell lake Wisconsin with my wife and seven kids. My wife and I have 23 Alaskan huskies in our kennel. I grew up racing sled dogs with my dad and sister, and now enjoy racing with my wife and kids. I also enjoy camping, hunting and fishing with my family. And in my free time I enjoy helping my mom and dad on the family farm.

Martha Schouweiler | Irma, WI

Martha and son Chad have been having fun with sled dogs since 2003. The Otter Run kennel is home to 20 Alaskan Huskies where the goal is year round fun. Martha is looking forward to her 12th Beargrease Mid-distance. Grandma of five beautiful granddaughters, her biggest fans.

Experience: John Beargrease Mid-Distance Race, Many midwest races over the last 15 years.

Joanna Oberg | Grand Marais, MN

I recently moved from northwestern Ontario to be a seasonal (in the winter months) resident of Grand Marais, MN. We will be returning to Canada to operate our fishing/hunting camp during the summer months. Having just started a new business and just moved… we are also commuting close to 40 minutes each way every day to where our dogs our located with some wonderful people! The things we do for the love of our dogs! All part of the adventure 🙂 Looking forward to running the Beargrease trail again!

Sponsors: Agimac River Outfitters (Ignace Ontario), Home Hardware (Dryden Ontario)

Brian Bergen | Sioux Lookout, ON, Canada

I live in northwestern Ontario. I do property management for a living. Which gives me time to train and enjoying my dogs. This is my fifth year doing middle distance raising. I have done the mail run, Beargrease, midnight run, Ely raise, my favourite is the Beargrease.

Beargrease 120 Junior Class

Julia Cross | Thunder Bay, ON, Canada

My name is Julia Cross and i am 16. I have been mushing dogs since i was 5 years old. I love anything with dogs, and one day want to run the Iditarod. I also enjoy cross country running, dog agility, and hiking. I am very thankful for all my sponsors, without them i wouldn’t be able to run this fabulous race!!

Experience: John Beargrease Junior Class Race, John Beargrease Recreational Class Race, Mid Minnesota 2017, Dog Days of Winter

Sponsors: Gear Up for Outdoors, Georges Market, Nutrisource Dog Food, Northern Ontario Sportsman Alliance, K&S Contracting, Milanis Outdoor Fabric


Alice White | Ely, MN

I have been running dogs for a number of years and handled and raced with Manitou Crossing Kennels for multiple seasons before branching off to build my own team. I currently have a small kennel of Siberian huskies in Ely, Minnesota, where I work as a veterinary technician.

Experience: John Beargrease Mid-Distance Race, John Beargrease Rec Race, UP 200, Wolftrack Classic, Apostle Islands, Casper Mountain

Carlie Beatty | Lakeville, MN

Carlie Beatty, from Lakeville, Minnesota, will be competing in her first Beargrease! Also running the race for the first time will be her identical twin sister, Chloe! Both girls have been running sleddogs since the second grade and finally convinced their parents to collect enough sleddogs to run rec races. Carlie is also a competitive gymnast so maybe her balance will help her out to pull out a nice Beargrease finish!

Chloe Beatty | Lakeville, MN

This is the first Beargrease for Chloe and her twin sister, Carlie! The twins have not only done well in sprint races with their retired teams of sleddogs, but they’ve also dog-handled for the Berington Twins in the 2015 Iditarod. Both girls will be competing in collegiate gymnastics next year so they are very excited to compete in the Beargrease this year! A special thanks to Rita Wehelsler for guiding and entrusting the girls!

Talia Martens | Brule, WI

Talia Martens, an 18 year old senior at Northwestern High School, was born and raised in Brule, WI on a hobby farm and has been running dogs since before she had walk. She started racing at the age of 9 and as the years progressed and her knowledge of dog mushing grew, her dreams got bigger. In 2018, she traveled to Alaska to run the Jr. Iditarod. She would like to thank everyone who supported her through that wild, amazing journey and greatly appreciates their generosity.

Shannon Cummings | Duluth, MN

I have been involved with sled dogs since 2014-2015 when I handled for my now wife Mallory (Sturmer). I have spent the last three seasons training and racing a small kennel including CopperDog 80, Apostle Island 6 dog and sprint racing last season. I enjoy being out with my dogs daily free running, canicross, bikejoring as well as team training. Running the Beargrease has been a goal I have with my team. Looking forward to the excitement and energy of the race as much as being around other mushers. Mallory and her dad Matt have been very generous with their time helping me train. I would not be doing this without the benefit of their knowledge and support.