January 25th, 2009: Beargrease

Sunday was the start of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. I've participated in the race as a volunteer for a little over 20 years now, with about 17 of those years being with the Beargrease Amateur Radio Coalition (BARC).

This year I worked net control, which is like the central hub of BARC's activity, for the start of the race (typically the busiest time for net control). On Sunday evening I headed out on the trail with Rick, KB0BDN, and rode the sled from Billy's Checkpoint up to the Hwy 2 checkpoint north of Two Harbors.

The temps were pretty cold, in the teens below zero, so it was a challenge to stay warm a couple of times. Rick runs the "trail sweep" for the race, meaning that he rides behind the last musher to make sure that there are no problems, etc (he's a trained EMT). He doesn't ride right up next to them, but rather hangs back a few miles, normally at the last road crossing that they crossed until they cross the next one, then he moves up to that one. I rode the sweep with him last year pretty much as an after-thought, and this year he invited me to come along again.

For most road crossings we didn't hang around very long (10 minutes or so), but when we got to the Drummond crossing outside of Two Harbors we had an hour wait to let the last team get to the next point (which was the checkpoint itself). Standing around for an hour (it was about 8:30pm at that point), in the cold and wind, was a challenge.

We got to the Hwy 2 checkpoint at about 9:45, at which point I warmed up a little bit in the truck, and then headed back home (about a 45 mile ride), and got home around midnight.

All in all a fun evening. I never look forward to the race, but once I'm in the middle of things I really enjoy it and usually wish I had allocated more time to get more involved.

Pictures that I took from the race (some on Sunday and some on Wednesday showing the finishing team) can be found here.

Total miles this ride: 86
Total miles this year: 1110

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