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Meet the Mushers

/Meet the Mushers
Meet the Mushers 2019-12-10T14:26:26+00:00

Beargrease Marathon

An (R) behind any individuals name denotes rookie. This is defined as anyone who has not previously completed the respective race.

Keith Aili

Hometown: Ray, MN

Kennel Name: Callin’ Trail Kennel

Website: www.redingtonmushing.com

 

 

 

Keith has been involved in dog powered sports for over 30.  When asked what got him interested or how he started, Keith explained they had 2 dogs on the farm, a Black Lab and Irish Setter, “I just hooked them up and started running” and the rest “is history”.  Keith is a past Beargrease marathon champion and has participated in many other races in the lower 48 states. Keith has also completed the Iditarod. Currently, Keith has no dogs of his own and will be running a team from Callin’ Trail Kennel (Redington). Handlers will be the Redington, Rossi and Morrow families. 

Liza Dietzen (R)

Hometown: Kaukauna, WI

Kennel Name: Team Evergreen Kennel

Website: www.teamevergreenkennel.com

Facebook: Team Evergreen Kennel

 

Biography:

Liza became interested in mushing after hearing the story of Balto at age 6, but it would be another 14 years before she started mushing at the age of 20 (2009).  Liza has been pursuing her Iditarod qualifiers since 2014, the Beargrease marathon is the last 300 mile race she needs. She writes: “I have a young team who has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, so we plan to take it easy and make it fun for everyone. It’s not always about the place you finish in, it’s about the journey you took to get there. We’ve been doing a lot of rebuilding in the last few years after a tough year in 2016, but I think this year is finally going to be our year.”  Liza’s handlers for the 2020 Beargrease Marathon are Tim Wood, Kathleen Kimble-Baker, Sigrud Utych, Laurie and Kersten Thibodeau.

Sponsors: Northern Michigan University

Blake Freking

Hometown: Finland, MN

Kennel Name: Manitou Crossing Kennel

Website: Racingsiberians.com

Facebook: Manitou Crossing Kennel

@blakefreking

 

Blake and his wife Jennifer own and  Manitou Crossing Kennels in Finland, MN where they raise and train their Siberian Huskies for competition in long distance sled dog races.  “Blake and Jennifer’s primary focus is the preservation of the working Siberian Husky. Their goal is to raise their dogs in the best environment possible with great socialization, the best nutrition available and optimal training to allow them to perform to their potential on the trail. They strive to enable their dogs to be happy and healthy from start to finish of every race.” 

In addition to the dogs, the couple have 2 daughters they are raising at their off-the-grid homestead. 

Blake is the reigning Beargrease Marathon champion, having won his second Marathon in 2019 (the first, his rookie year in the Beargrease Marathon was 2006).

Blake’s racing experience includes 3 Iditarod finishes, 1 Yukon Quest and a multitude of other races including the Beargrease, UP 200, Hudson Bay Quest, and many others in the US, Canada and Europe.  

Blake is a civil engineer and Air Tanker Base Manager for the US Forest Service.

Blake’s handler for 2020 will be Jake Liengang.

 

Sponsors:  Wintergreen Northern Wear (wintergreennorthernwear.com)

Howling Dog Alaska (howlingdogalaska.com)

Jennifer Freking

Hometown: Finland, MN

Kennel Name: Manitou Crossing Kennel

Website: Racingsiberians.com

Facebook: Manitou Crossing Kennel

 

 

Jennifer began mushing at the age of 8 competing as a Jr. Musher on the North Star Sled Dog Club sprint circuit.  She grew up around the sport and Siberian Huskies. 

Jennifer is in her 15th year as a Veterinarian at the Ely Veterinarian Clinic.  She and her husband, Blake live off-the-grid near Finland, MN where they are raising their 2 daughters and a multitude of Siberian Huskies, 10 chickens and 2 cats. 

Jennifer ran her first Iditarod in 2008 and was awarded Most Inspirational Musher by fellow mushers.  In 2019, Jennifer placed second in the Beargrease Marathon behind her husband Blake! Jennifer writes: “I live a very full life and rarely sit still except for during my hour long commute to work every day. …Boredom is a foreign idea to us!”

Jennifer’s handler in 2020 will be Jake Liengang. 

 

Sponsors:  Wintergreen Northern Wear (wintergreennorthernwear.com)

Howling Dog Alaska (howlingdogalaska.com)

Jaye Foucher

Hometown: Wentworth, NH

Kennel Name: Sibersong Sleddogs

Website: sibersong.com

https://www.facebook.com/sibersonghuskies 

https://twitter.com/SibersongDogs 

https://www.instagram.com/sibersong_sleddogs

 

Jaye began mushing at the age of 34, having run across it during her internet searches for a way for her and her Siberian Husky to burn off energy in the winter. 

Currently Jaye runs a team of mixed Alaskan and Siberian Huskies and is living in the UP for the 2019-2020 season, finishing up her qualifiers for the 2021 Iditarod.

Jaye works as a computer programmer to “support this money-sucking habit”.  

Sponsors: Carole & David Williams, Dana Kevalder, Kenley Kline-Foucher, Karen Christopherson, Jeanne & David Seaquist, Lissy Heminway, Ginger Webb, Joy Cacoulidis

Peter McClelland

Hometown: Isabella, MN

Kennel Name: White Wilderness

Website: whitewilderness.com

 

Peter enrolled in a program to learn winter camping which included sled dogs.. he was hooked I live with my family and a kennel of 100 dogs. We own and operate White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures. We enjoy taking people in the woods where they can mush their own team on a guided trip. I enjoy racing where I can be out in the woods for long runs and focus on the dogs. My daughter Morgan will be racing as well in the 40-mile race. When not running dogs I enjoy fishing, biking, and camping.

In addition to the Beargrease, Peter has competed in many races of varying length in the US and Canada.  Peter’s handlers will be: Shawn McCarty, Heidi Favet, Scott Quick

 

Sponsors: White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures (whitewilderness.com), Denise Parker

Martin Massicotte (R)

Hometown: St-Tite, Quebec, Canada

Kennel Name: Chenil des Patrotes

 

When he was 8, Martin put a harness on the house dog, a big St-Bernard !!! Then, one day, he saw a team of several dogs and realized that he wanted to harness more dogs. 

As a teenager, Martin was doing sprint races.  It was only in 1996 that he began doing long distance races competing in races between 60 and 400 miles in the same year, including the Labrador 400. As he grew in experience, he began winning –having won the Can-Am Crown 250 10 times, beginning in 1998 and most recently in 2019.  Six of those wins were consecutive! In 2003 he realized his dream of running the Yukon Quest (1000 miles), where he placed 6th. In 2015, Martin won the Hudson Bay Quest in Manitoba (220 miles) as a rookie in that race and won it for the second time in 2019. In 2020, I will run my first Iditarod in Alaska. Martin stated: “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 human and the beast.”

Martin’s handler in 2020 will be Dominic Parisien

Sponsors: KANUK www.kanuk.com
CANAC www.canac.ca
Mush Hi-Tech www.mushhitech.com
Hypnose www.hypnoseclothing.com
Downsview Veterinary Hospital: Veterinarians Downsview … https://downsviewvethospital.com

Kevin Mathis (R)

Hometown: Monona, Iowa

Kennel Name: Go the Distance

 

Kevin has been mushing for 6 years, starting with mid-distance races and now moving up to long distance competitions.  Kevin is running the Beargrease Marathon as an Iditarod qualifier, hoping to achieve the requirements this year and gain experience over the next few years.  

Kevin and his wife, Tera, have been married for 15 and have 3 boys, Kashton (15), Holden (14) and Lincoln (8).  Kashton and Holden ran their first races last year. Kevin commented: “It was a new perspective for me to be the handler waiting at the finish.” The family enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time in the outdoors.

 

Sponsors: Smitty’s Oil and Tire,  Cook Insurance Agency, Jet’s Meat Processing

Frank Moe

Hometown: Hovland, MN

Kennel Name: Moetown Kennel

Facebook: @FrankMoe

 

After taking a “face plant” at age 32 while roller blading with 2 dogs, Frank decided snow might be softer and started skiing with them instead.. thus began his 20 plus year relationship with sled dog sports.  

“Sherri and I live in Hovland with our 40 dogs, 2 cats, a mouse and a pig named Petunia. We built our lives around the dogs, both where and how we live. The North Shore of Lake Superior is perfect for mushing, long snowy winters, great trails, beautiful scenery and many hills to train for the Beargrease. When we’re not taking care of and training dogs, Sherri and I like to garden, hike, bike and sea kayak. My work now is primarily guiding rock climbing, canoeing and sea kayaking out of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais. I want to thank all the volunteers and sponsors that make the Beargrease possible. This will be our 15th year!”

Frank’s wife Sherri will be his handler

Sponsors: NutriSource Performance Dog Food: https://nutrisourcepetfoods.com
Cook County Home Center: https://www.acehardware.com/store-details/16353
Krill Pet: https://www.qrillpet.com

Laura Neese (R)

Hometown: McMillian, MI

Kennel Name: Nature’s Kennel

Website: natureskennel.com

Facebook: Nature’s Kennel

 

Laura fell in love with the sport through following the Iditarod as part of a homeschool project at the age of 9 and “knew immediately that it was the life I wanted to pursue.”  Laura grew up on a small farm in Newark, Ohio where she and her older sister raised Boer goats and participated in 4-H for eight years, training and showing their five family dogs.  Laura spent four years learning everything she could about the sport and started a small kennel in Ohio and began competing in races in Michigan’s UP. Laura graduated from high school at the age of 16 and two years later received an Associate’s degree in Veterinary Technology from Penn Foster College. In 2014 Laura moved to McMillian, MI to pursue her dream of long distance racing at Nature’s Kennel.  Laura says, “I have been blessed with the opportunity to train and race our Nature’s Kennel team throughout North America for the past five years.”

Laura has competed in the Yukon Quest, Iditarod, Percy DeWolfe, Canadian Challenge, Eagle Cap Extreme, Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, UP 200 and CanAm250.  Laura is looking forward to adding the Beargrease Marathon to her list of races. Julia Cross will be Laura’s handler.

 

Sponsors: Royal Canin USA

Ryan Redington

Hometown: Skagway, Alaska

Kennel Name: Callin’ Trail Kennel

Webiste: redingtonmushing.com

Facebook: Redington Mushing

 

Mushing is a family tradition in the Redington family as Joe Redington, Sr., Ryan’s grandfather, Joe Redington Sr, founded the Iditarod.   Ryan has been running dogs since he could reach the handlebars. Ryan and his wife Erin, along with their two children (Eve 5 and TJ 4) make their home in Skagway Alaska and spend time in northern Wisconsin training dogs as well. Ryan has participated in many races in the lower 48 states, Canada and Alaska.  The Beargrease is one of Ryan’s favorite races, he is looking forward to participating again in 2020. Ryan’s handlers will be his wife Erin, the Rossi and Morrow families. 

 

Sponsors: www.dogbooties.com, www.alaskax.com, www.redpawdogfood.com, AFS, Ryan Air Inc., John Nunnes, Mary Lee, Geoff and Juliet Foulds- Walters, Bryan and Kay Gabbard, Spike and Lindy Fortier, Rossi Family, Morrow Family, Sue and Dave McCarville

Dallas Seavey (R)

Hometown: Talkeetna, Alaska

Kennel Name: Dallas Seavey Racing

Website: sleddogtours.com

Facebook: Dallas Seavey

 

Dallas grew up around the sport of dog mushing and has been caring for sled dogs since the age of 5.  Dallas’s first races, like many kids in mushing families, were one dog races around a short track. Dallas raced the Jr. Iditarod at the age of 14.  Dallas said – “ I trained my first team when I was 14 to compete in my first Jr. Iditarod. That was the first time that I had complete responsibility for the development of the team and I think that’s where I really fell in love with the sport of mushing.”

Dallas started his own kennel in 2008 and won his first major race, the Yukon Quest in 2011 and won the Iditarod for the first time in 2012.   Dallas has competed in the Iditarod 11 times, winning 4 of those times and breaking the speed record twice. In 2018 and 2019 Dallas traveled to Norway to compete in the Finnmarksløpet, the longest sled dog race in Europe.  

 

Sponsors: Qrill Pet Mushing Team https://www.qrillpet.com/

Justin High (R)

Hometown: Mohawk, MI

Kennel Name: High’s Adventure Kennel

Website: highsadventure.com

Facebook:  High’s Adventure Gear and Kennel

Justin, his wife Jaimee and daughter Isadore recently moved back to Michigan from Alaska. They brought their 30 dog kennel and business with them.   Both Justin and his wife are Iditarod finishes and have helped to train many Iditarod team including some with top 10 finishes. Their business, High’s Adventure Gear makes parkas and other gear designed for mushers for every cold weather environment.   Thier daughter, Isadore is “ready to run her own Beargrease but we keep telling her she has a few more years first.” Justin also wrote:  “We bring our own philosophy to running dogs”.  Justin’s handlers will be his wife Jaimee and daughter Isadore.  

 

Sponsors:  High’s Adventure Gear (highsadventure.com)

John Fisher

Hometown: Cook, MN

Kennel Name: Meander Mountain Huskies

Facebook: Vermilion Veterinary Clinic

John became interested in mushing after reading Jack London’s “ An Odyssey of the North” at the age of 10.

John began competing in Beargrease races in 1989 (Beargrease 130) and has competed in the UP 200, Percy DeWolfe in Dawson City, Yukon.  John first competed in the Beargrease Marathon in 2004 and finished 7th.    John’s wife, Robin has also competed in many Beargrease events.  Both have been a  part of the Beargrease Veterinary team in the past. 

John and Robin have operated the Vermilion Veterinary Clinic since 1985.  They both were forced to cut down on competing as their business grew. Their focus with their sled dogs over the past 15 years has been trips to the BWCA. The addition of Dr. Jack Anderson and his wife Renee to their practice in 2016 has allowed the Fishers to put in the training need to compete in the Beargrease again.  John’s handlers will be Robin Fisher, Ann Fisher and Heather O’Brien.

 

Sponsors: Northwest Mining Company, Fairbanks, AK; Vermilion Veterinary Clinic

Beargrease Mid Distance

Janet Bahe (R)

Hometown: Togo, MN 

Kennel Name: Unleashed Dogsled Adventures

Janet Bahe is a retired postal clerk from Togo, Minnesota. She got her start with Inuits and after going to Mushing Boot Camp, she started running Alaskan huskies, many of them from Jamie Nelson’s kennel. She has been mushing for 19 years and enjoys mentoring kids, one of them being Nicole Grangroth who is running the Junior race again this year. Janet’s highlights from last year include running the Race to the Sky, 100 mile division and handling for Peter McClelland and Shawn McCarty at the Hudson Bay Quest. Janet has run the 40 mile rec Beargrease race in the past and is looking forward to running the 120 this year! Janet’s handlers will be Heather Jeske Pharr and Connie Bahe

Marcus Benjamin  (R)

Hometown: Village of Alpha, MI

Kennel Name: High’s Adventure

Website: http://highsadventure.com

Marcus became interested in the sport during the first Ironline race. 

He’s been working with various kennels for the past 4-5 years handling and running dogs. This year he is  running a team for Jaimee and Justin High of High’s Adventure Gear. Marcus added: “This will be my first Beargrease and I’m looking forward to running it. I own a business so I have the winters off to run dogs. I like trapping, hunting and fishing.”

 

Sponsors: High’s Adventure Gear (highsadventure.com)

Talia Martens (R)

Hometown: Brule, WI

Kennel Name: Talia’s Team

Instagram: talias_team

“As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fire in my heart to run sled dogs. My mom has had me on the runners of a dog sled since I was 10 months old. Since then I have continued to run dogs and have added new challenges for me and my dogs in compete in.”  There are 22 dogs in the family’s kennel along with 4 horses and two house dogs. Talia started college this past fall at UW- Superior and is working on her generals. Talia has a 13 year old brother who helps a lot with the dogs and training as well as her parents. Talia’s other hobbies include  running, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and hiking. This is Talia’s first year competing in the Beargrease 120, but she did compete in Beargrease 40 in 2019 and the Jr. Beargrease (80 miles) in 2017. Talia wrote “ I would like to thank my family for supporting me in all the things that I have done the last couple years even if they sounded crazy. I’m very excited this year to compete in the Beargrease 120!

Talia’s handlers will be:  Janet Martens, and Ruth King

 

Sponsors:  Tim Martens Logging Company

Andrea DeBoer

Hometown: Grand Marais, MN 

Kennel Name: Amorak Kennel

 When asked what got her interested in the sport Andrea wrote “Bob Somers took me on my first sled dog ride as a surly 16-year-old kid that wanted nothing to do with the sport! Needless to say the day ended much better then it began! From there my mom and Stepdad have helped mentor me and introduce me to some pretty amazing people along the way!”. 8 years ago the DeBoer’s sold everything they owned and moved their family to Grand Marais, MN. “Needless to say the rest is history,” adds Andrea.  The family consists of her husband DJ and 3 kids, Tanner (17), Taylor(15) and Talon(11) we have 40 Huskies(give or take a couple) and kennel mascot Woody!  Andrea said “ This is our 8th winter training dogs and every year just seems to get better! We look forward to continuing to learn more about managing a dog team and making dog care our top priority.” Andrea is currently employed with Cook County Public Health and Human Services.  DJ DeBoer and the kids will be Anrea’s handlers.

Arlene Duff

Hometown: Togo, MN 

Kennel Name: R-2 Kennel

“I always loved watching sled dog races and decided in my 40’s to buy two dogs for fun…little did I know what was in store for me. I started with sprint racing nut wanted to be out longer with the dogs.”  Arlene lives in Togo Mn and has had the great pleasure of learning more about dogs and mushing from her mentor and friend Jamie Nelson. Arlene writes “There is nothing more I love than being out with the dogs…in the kennel and on the trail. My hope this year is to have a good safe run for all involed…two legged and four leggeds. These dogs are amazing and every time I go out with them they teach me more about life,myself, determination and passion. They just make me smile and fill me with joy!”  Arlene’s handlers will be Marina Fuhrman, Rhonda Vahle, Dianne Seger

Joann Fortier

Hometown: Gaylord, MI

Kennel Name: Coyote Run Sled Dog Kennel

Facebook: Joann Fortier

Instagram: Joann Fortier

Joann became interested in the sport watching Susan Butcher on the news win the Iditarod.  She began her own career at the age of 22 and has been racing for 21 years. There are usually around 35 dogs in their kennel. Joann has participated in  many races over the years, Tahquamenon, Beargrease, Copper Dog, Midnight Run, Ironline, and so many others. Joann wrote: “My goal for this year’s race is to improve and break into the top 4. This is always a very competitive raced filled with top teams, so that is definitely a challenge. “ Joann’s husband Larry and daughter Ana will be handling for her. Her leaders will most likely be Tracer, Nelson, Raven and Blizzard.

Rhonda Heerschap (R)

Hometown: Nolau, Ontario

Kennel Name: Paws on Patrol Sled Dog Kennel

Rhonda and her family have a small sled dog kennel in Nolalu, Ontario. Rhonda and her husband Andy have been mushing for over 15 years and have had their own kennel since they brought 9 dogs back to Northern Ontario from the Northwest Territories. Andy has run the Beargrease Mid before, they take turns running races, this is Rhonda’s turn to see the North Shore.  Rhonda added “ My goal for this race is to have fun travelling down the trail with our group of young dogs.” When not dog sledding the couple is spending time with our 2 children, working, camping, fishing and making improvements around the property and kennel.

Patrick Hodgeman (R)

Hometown: Wascott, WI

Kennel Name: Got Dogs Racing Kennel

Patrick has a 55 dog kennel in Wascott, Wisconsin. I enjoy spending time with my dogs and doing things with and for them. Pat left over the road driving after 32 years and got a job locally which allows him to be home daily and more time with his dogs. He enjoys spending time with his dogs; doing things with and for them.  Pat also enjoys camping, summer and winter, fishing, and hunting. Pat wrote: “ My family are my dogs for the most part. I have 2 brothers and a sister and 9 grandchildren. I am the only one who is involved with the sport in my family. My girlfriend Becky has begun to get into the sport somewhat and will be running a 6 dog team at Northern Pines race in Iron River.” Pat’s handlers will be Becky and Jesse

 

Sponsors: Jay’s Deisel, B.T. Game Processing

Sarah Keefer (R)

Hometown: Burnsville, MN

Kennel Name: Callin’ Trail Kennel

Website: redingtonmushing.com

Facebook: Redington Mushing

Sarah grew up in Minnesota and has always enjoyed the outdoors. Sarah got started running dogs with the Redingtons a few years ago. She added: “The Redingtons dragged me into the world!”  Sarah has raced in and handled for many events and is excited to be running in the Beargrease for the first time. Sarah is an accomplished artist and created the art for the Beargrease poster in 2018. Sarah’ handlers will be the Redington, Rossi and Morrow families. 

Sponsors: www.dogbooties.com, www.alaskax.com, www.redpawdogfood.com, AFS, Ryan Air Inc., John Nunnes, Mary Lee, Geoff and Juliet Foulds- Walters, Bryan and Kay Gabbard, Spike and Lindy Fortier, Rossi Family, Morrow Family

Dusty Klaven

Hometown: Togo, MN

Kennel Name: Klaven’s Crazy K-9’s

“It all started with one dog. That explains a lot”, said Dusty when asked about her introduction to the sport.   Dusty has a small kennel in northern Minnesota. This is Dusty’s eighth time running the Beargrease 120 (mid distance).   Dusty would like to thank her sponsors Wanderlust Essentials LLC and Barn Yarn. Her handler will be “Awesome Maria” 

Sponsors: Wanderlust Essentials LLC, Barn Yarn

Alex LaPlante

Hometown: Esko, MN 

Kennel Name: Maple Ridge Kennel (owned by Dave Gordon)

Facebook: Maple Ridge Kennel, Alex LaPlante

Alex had always been interested in the sport, but it wasn’t until the age of 41 that she finally had an opportunity to try it with Dave Gordon’s help.  Alex always liked racing, having raced snowmobiles, and ridden race horses as an exercise rider. Sled dog racing was the “next thing to try” writes Alex.   Originally from Chaska, Minnesota, Alex has lived with her family in the Duluth area for 23 years. She and her husband Dave Mills have two boys ages 20 and 21.  Alex’s first race was 10 years ago and she has been addicted ever since. She runs dogs for Maple Ridge Kennel and is slowly building her own kennel with her husband. For the 2020 race, 3 of the dogs will be from their own and they are hoping for puppies soon!  When asked her goal for training miles before the race Alex wrote: “900 miles. When I did 1000 miles of training I was too focused on the number of miles and not on letting the dogs enjoy themselves.” Alex’s handlers will be her husband Dave, Mike Schultenover, Jim and Andy.  Alex gets help hooking up the rowdy bunch from her friend Jamie Timm when she can make it. 

Ryan Miller (R)

Hometown: Cook, MN 

Kennel Name: Underdog Sled Dogs

Website: Underdogsleddogs.com

Facebook: Underdog Sled Dogs

Ryan and his wife Kaysee, along with their kids, moved to northern Minnesota in 2016 and got into mushing shortly thereafter.  Ryan writes: “Mushing has proven to be quite stressful, fiscally irresponsible and overly time consuming. Still, we seem to get deeper and deeper into the sport every year. This will be my first experience with the Beargreas and my 2nd race”.  

 

Sponsors: J & H Contracting (Angora,MN)

 

Joanna Oberg

Hometown : Grand Marais, MN

Kennel Name : Run Silent Racing Kennel

Website: https://www.dogtec.com/kennel/run-silent-racing-kennel/group/dogs-in-our-kennel

Facebook: Joanna Oberg

Joanna got to watch sprint races when the family first moved to Ely when she was a child. She got her first sled dog, a Samoyed at the age of 14 for dog shows and dog sledding.  She writes that it was her first dogsled ride at around age 12 from her friends the Chapman girls who were working with Jamie Nelson at the time, that got her “hooked for life”.   Joanna loved the enthusiasm of the dogs and the rush of being pulled by dog power! Dogs, the outdoors and adventure are a few of Joanna’s favorite things. Joanna and her parents run Agimac River Outfitters, a fishing camp in Canada and seasonally winter in Grand Marais.   Joanna has been racing competitively for 12 years and currently has 18 dogs in her kennel, 12 in the racing pool. Joanna shared this adventure from the 2019 race: “Last year on the first leg of the race my team came flying around a corner to see a porcupine waddling down the middle of the trail! My team flew by it, almost brushing against it as it twitched its tail… thankfully we escaped unscathed but I pray we do not have any close encounters this year!” When not running or playing with her dogs Joanna enjoys reading, writing, fishing, swimming, canoe/kayaking, dog shows/event, movies and taking long walks with her German imported Irish Setter!    Joanna’s handler will be John Oberg

 

Sponsors: Agimac River Outfitters (agimacriveroutfitters.ca), Home Hardware in Dryden, Ontario.

Erin Schouweiler

Hometown : Irma, WI

Kennel Name : Otter Run Kennel

Twitter: @OtterRunkenne

Erin’s interest in sled dogs started while reading about Susan Butcher in National Geographic while enjoying milk and Oreos with her Grandpa Mick.   “All I saw was a girl and her dogs and from then on sled dogs were on the brain.” Erin saved her chore money and pestered her parents “non stop” for about a year.  She reports that a family vacation to Duluth in 1999 ended with a trip to the Schroeder Kennel in Warba, Minnesota. She left the kennel with her first two “REAL sled dogs” thanks to Vern and Cindy Schroeder.  Erin started running dogs as a youngster at her Prairie Winds Racing Kennel. Currently she and her husband Chad, who she married right after the 2019 Beargrease, run Otter Run Kennels in Irma, Wisconsin. The couple have one son “T-Boone”.  Erin stated, “The Beargrease Mid is not only the most participated race in the lower 48 the last 15 years, but also the highlight of our kennel’s race season with its perfect format that combines adventure, challenge, speed, a competitive field and most importantly the format is inclusive and attainable for working class mushers. I am very excited to be back on the runners for this incredible race!” Erin’s handler will be her husband Chad. 

 

Sponsors: “wonderful friends sponsor individual dogs”

Darcy Stanley-Nord

Hometown: Millaca, MN

Kennel Name: NordStar Racing

Website: NordStar-Racing.com

Darcy is a Mom, teacher and musher and “generally busy person”.  Darcy started this “crazy mission” eight or nine years ago after taking a ride with Jake Hway at Chilly Dogs. Darcy adds “…and the next thing you know I’m registering for 120 mile races”. Darcy’s handlers will be Scott Nord and Kimberley Wagner

 

Sponsors: Magnum Corporation

Billie Thompson

Hometown: Cloquet, MN

Kennel Name: Rock Creek Kennel

Facebook: Billie Thompson

Billie started mushing at the age of 7 and has been running sled dogs ever since.  Billie said “Beargrease is my favorite race and I have been involved as handler, volunteer, board of directors volunteer and musher.”  Billie owns a kennel of dogs with Richard Loucks and looks forward to another year. Billie and her husband have 2 daughters, Chloe and Brynlee.  Brynlee, age 3 will be in the Cub Run in 2020! Billie’s handlers for the 2020 Beargrease are Richard Loucks and Betsy Ingram-Diver.

 

Sponsors:  Empire Wool and Canvas Company (empirecanvasworks.com)

Nick Turman

Hometown: Two Harbors, MN

Kennel Name: High Times Kennel

Nick began his mushing career at the age of 45 because he loved seeing the dogs.  Nick, along with his wife Joy got started by handling for teams from Alaska. The Turman’s have a small kennel of 14 dogs and continue to race in 3 to 4 races a year. Nick writes, “We would like to thank the Beargrease and all the volunteers and wish everyone a good time.”  Nick’s handlers will be Warren Turman and Paul

Rita Wehseler

Hometown: Tofte, MN

Kennel Name: Stoney Creek Kennel

Rita was introduced to the sport by a friend, Paul Ellering and loved it! She has been running dogs for 25 years. Rita and her husband Bill live on the North Shore of Lake Superior. There are 40 dogs in Rita’s kennel.  Rita’s handlers will be Chris Johnson and Gary Gagnon

 

Sponsors: Claire Seekins, Chris Johnson

Alice White

Hometown: Ely, MN

Kennel Name: Wolf Moon Kennel

Instagram: teamwolfmoon

Alice got her first husky at the age of 11 and began bikejouring with her. “It all kind of snowballed from there”, writes Alice.  Alice was captivated by sled dogs and the north country at a young age. Alice moved north 11 years ago and worked several seasons as a handler for Blake and Jennifer Freking before branching off to start building her own team and kennel.   Alice works as a veterinary technician at the Ely Veterinary Clinic. Alice enjoys the region and the mushing community. Alice’s handler for the 2020 Beargrease will be Cassie Schliesman.

 

Sponsors: Manitou Crossing Kennel

Lynne Witte

Hometown: Luther, MI

Kennel Name: Iskristall

As an elementary school teacher for over 40 years, Lynne was privileged to travel to Alaska to follow the Iditarod as a teacher offering lessons and experiences back to her students.  This opportunity was the star for her running of sled dogs. Lynne began racing marathon canoes in Michigan in 1974 and was able to compete around the US and Canada. Lynne used cross country skiing as a means to cross train for the canoe races, which led to skijoring with 4 dogs and eventually realizing a sled would be easier.  Lynne’s passion for dogs and love of competing with so many teams is exciting. Lynne as competed in the Yukon Quest 300 and many races in Michigan. Lynne’s handler for the 2020 Beargrease is Keith Wojahn.  

 

Sponsors: dogbooties.com

Steph Love

Hometown: Duluth, MN

Kennel Name: Moetown Kennels

Facebook: Positive Energy Outdoors

Steph’s first encounter with dog sledding was a winter camping/dogsled trip to the BWCA with Paul Schurke from Wintergreen Dog Sled Lodge (Peter McClelland was one of the guides) and she loved it.   Steph is co-founder/director of Positive Energy Outdoors and has spent the past 15 years running educational tours and youth programs with her kennel of 55 huskies 15 miles north of Duluth. Through her work as an outdoor educator, Steph has introduced thousands of children and adults to the incredible sport of dog sledding. She is excited for a new chapter of racing as part of Moetown Kennels. Steph lives in Duluth with her 11 year old son, Ansel, and spends as much time outside as possible. In addition to running the Beargrease 120 in 2011, Steph runs half marathons and marathons, kayaks, skis, hikes and drives a team of Percheron draft horses, Hank and Henry. Thank you to Frank and Sherri for the opportunity to return to the Beargrease as a racer, and to the incredible volunteers who make this race such a positive experience for the mushers and spectators.  Steph’s handlers will be Britt Rohrbaugh, Leah Nelson, Rachel Keener.

 

Sponsors: NutriSource Performance Dog Food (nutrisourcepetfoods.com), Cook County County Home Center,  Qrill Pet (qrillpet.com)

Beargrease Mid Distance Jr.

Beargrease 40

Tyler Girdner  (R)

Hometown: Lakeville, MN

Kennel Name: R-2 Kennel

Tyler, from Lakeville, Minnesota always thought mushing was some far-away dream that he couldn’t break into until being offered a handling position last summer with Arlene Duff.  “Arlene showed me there’s a whole mushing world right here in Minnesota”, writes Tyler. This will be Tyler’s first race, his goal is to finish with all 6 dogs and come back next year to compete in more races. Tyler’s handlers will be Claire Watne, Diane Seger, Rhonda Vahle

Chris Kivi (R)

Hometown: Solon Springs, WI

Kennel Name: CD Kennels

Chris is 49 years old, married with 1 son and 2 daughters, a railroad engineer for 27 years. Chris grew up in the snow country of Bessemer, Michigan so winter has always been a fun time of year! Chris moved back to northern Wisconsin in August of ’99. When not working with the dogs, Chris enjoys hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and working on his collection of antique tractors and equipment. Chris and his family also raise chickens, ducks, and geese. Chris is a member of the Lake Superior Tired Iron Tractor club and Lake Superior Transportation Museum.  Chris started mushing in 2012 when he and his wife rescued a pair of malamutes and a month later they were asked to take the last two. Chris writes “Deal was sealed when he offered to give me all the left over equipment which turned out to be pretty much a complete musher’s starter kit of harnesses, lines, and a sled. After some trial and (much?) error and a few more rescued dogs (because you never have enough, right?) we were able to run our first rec race at Bayfield a few years ago and every year we’ve been expanding our horizons. Crazy.

Martha Schouweiler

Hometown: Irma, WI

Kennel Name: Otter Run Kennel

Martha is the mother of 4 and Grandma to 6.  Martha’s son Chad and daughter-in-law Erin operate Otter Run Kennel a small kennel in northern Wisconsin whose focus is on keeping the dogs happy.   Martha grew up on a dairy farm in near Cushing, Wisconsin and when not doing chores could be found playing in the woods, barns and sheds. She loves being with animals and in the outdoors. Martha’s interest in the sport started at the age of 16 with a trip to Alaska.   Martha has been racing since 2003 and writes “It took me 10 years to finally win a race. The first win was very memorable. The Beargrease is one of my favorites.” Martha will be running a group of young dogs in the 2020 Beargrease 40. Chad Schouweiler will be her handler.

Mark Stillwell (R)

Hometown: Duluth, MN

Mark has been running dogs for 7 years, the kind of dog sledding he most enjoys is winter camping and ice fishing in the BWCA.  Mark wrote:“Just me and the dogs and nature; its quiet and peaceful with solitude. I like to be free on the dog sled. If i see a trail I will explore it to see where it leads me!”  This is my first year running the Beargrease. I am running not to win but to be out on the trial with the other mushers and have fun. My dogs are freight haulers not racers.”

Kristi LaVoy

Hometown: Mount Airy, MD

Kennel Name: Grey Wind Alaskan Malamutes

Website: greywindalaskanmalmutes.com

Facebook: Grey Wind Alaskan Malamutes

Currently living in Maryland, Kristi is originally from Florida. It was the movie Balto that inspired her love of northern breed dogs. As with many mushers, it all started with one dog and then another, and another, until there were enough for a team! Kristi has entered the world of dog sled racing to challenge herself and to experience wonderful trails with her team. Kristi writes: “I’m competitive by nature. But I love my Malamutes and wouldn’t trade them, so I know that I’m out there competing for my own best time. My goal is to finish with happy, healthy dogs and enjoy our time on the trails”. This is Kristi’s first season competing in sled dog racing. Kristi’s handler will be Kenji Ackert

Linus Meyer

Hometown: Meire Grove, MN

Kennel Name: Grove Trotters Kennel

Like many mushers, the movie “Iron Will” sparked Linus’s interest in mushing.  After getting a ride from a local musher in 1995, Linus purchased 5 dogs and entered his first race in 1997 – the Mid Minnesota.  Since that time, Linus has competed in many races in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and South Dakota. Linus writes: “ Although I have a somewhat competitive spirit, the satisfaction of training up a team, the peacefulness, joy, and solitude of running dogs, and camaraderie with fellow mushers is what keeps me going.”  Grove Trotter Kennel consists of 17 Alaskan Huskies, including 1 retried 1 semi-retired and 4 puppies. Linus is a retired dairy farmer and conservation tech, his wife, Ileta, is a retired clerk. Together, the couple share a hobby farm with dogs, cats, chickens, ducks and goats