Beargrease winners year by year
1980 Gary Hokkanen of Buyck, Minn., beat 18 teams in the inaugural 164-mile Beargrease from Grand Marais to Duluth. "These dogs are steady," said Hokkanen, who finished in 15 hours, 47 minutes, 17 seconds and earned $350. "They go the same speed ...
Gary Hokkanen of Buyck, Minn., beat 18 teams in the inaugural 164-mile Beargrease from Grand Marais to Duluth.
"These dogs are steady," said Hokkanen, who finished in 15 hours, 47 minutes, 17 seconds and earned $350. "They go the same speed all the time, up and down hills. ... They know they're not out for Sunday tea."
Kevin Turnbough of Grand Marais mushed for 27 straight hours to cover 350 miles in 66:01:28 and took home $3,000.
"The early morning hours were the worst," Turnbough said of the fatigue. "I was standing on my sled and kept falling asleep."
John Patten, a Beargrease founder from Grand Marais, held off Myron Angstman by a narrow 3:46 to win the closest Beargrease ever in 73:29:47.
"[Angstman] is the wiliest guy I know," said Patten, who won $6,500. "I thought he'd been sandbagging me all along, waiting for the kill at the end."
Rookie musher Robin Jacobson of Squaw Lake, Minn., was greeted by 2,500 fans as he crossed the finish in 65:34:31.
"It's a great win for me, but it's the dogs that were doing the work," said Jacobson, 22, who closed with six dogs and won $6,500.
After losing a tight race in 1985, Myron Angstman nipped fellow Alaskan Joe Garnie by 13 minutes to win in 63:09:36 for 372 miles.
"They really took off to get home," Angstman said of his dogs.
Jamie Nelson of Togo, Minn., used a strong finish to become the first woman to win the Beargrease. With 32 miles left, she overcame a 14-minute deficit to win by 15 minutes.
"I didn't give [catching up] any thought until 15 miles out when my dogs started to click," she said.
Dee Dee Jonrowe of Willow, Alaska, won the first race of her 10-year career in 97:25:49 for 475 miles.
Susan Butcher of Manley, Alaska, became the third consecutive woman to win the Beargrease. She beat Vern Halter to the finish by 25 minutes for an overall time of 87:15 for 475 miles.
"I finished second here in 1986, and I came down here with the feeling I was going to win," said Butcher, who won $12,000.
Terry Adkins of Sand Coulee, Mont., raced almost straight through to Grand Portage, rested and carried out the victory in 82:25:48.
Greg Swingley of Simms, Mont., crossed the finish line amid 14-below temperatures in 80:33.
"There were no serious dog problems, no accidents on the trail," said Swingley, who won $10,000. "Everything went right."
Greg Swingley became the first two-time Beargrease champ with a winning time of 90:58.
"This one is pretty special," Swingley said. "I was getting tired until I crossed the finish line. That got the adrenaline going."
Doug Swingley, Greg's brother, took over the team and won going away in 90:49.
"I got tired after about three hours, but [the dogs] kept going and boogied on into town," said Swingley, who finished with 11 dogs to cash in $10,000.
Jamie Nelson won her second marathon in 90:14:06
Doug Swingley won the500-mile race in 107 hours,53 minutes.
"I think this is a good time to announce retirement," Swingley said after the race. "I'm pretty old, and those hills are just too much for me."
Jamie Nelson had 12 dogs rumble into Duluth in a winning time of 99:30.
"She's a real veteran, she knows the race and she trains real hard," said Bill Gallea, a Beargrease veteran.
Jamie Nelson became the race's only four-time champion after winning a shortened race that began and ended in Grand Portage.
John Barron of Willow, Alaska, covered the 330-mile course in 30 trail hours.
"I've been racing for over 20 years and this is the best [race] I've ever had," Barron said.
John Barron edged fellow training partner Doug Grilliot for a second straight win.
First-time Beargrease entrant Cliff Wang of Ely guided his eight-dog team to the win after 415 miles.
"This race is a great challenge for the dogs and the humans on a lot of different levels," Wang said.
Frank Teasley of Jackson, Wyo., used a 15-mph pace to cruise to victory.
"I was trying to hold the team together because of the hills," Teasley said. "Every race has its signature, and this one is its up-down, up-down, up-down. The dogs just couldn't get a pace going. As soon as they started rolling downhill they had to start grinding back up."
Wang won his second title in a trail time of 48 hours, after dropping out in 2002 at the first checkpoint due to an illness.
Blake Freking of Finland, Minn., took a team of Siberian Husky purebreds to the title in 41 hours.
"It really is a great feeling, and I am extremely proud of the dogs and what they accomplished because they are the first purebred team to win this race," said Freking, 30.
In his 13th attempt, Mark Black of Hovland, Minn., won the Beargrease in 67:51 after edging Jennifer Deye (Freking).
"I never thought I would win a Beargrease," said Black, who won $3,000. "I had people tell me though the years, 'You're too big. Your dogs are too slow.' But I did it."
Keith Aili of Ray Minn., overcame a bout with tonsillitis and a late snowfall to win.
"A hotel room, a shower, a beer and a bed," Aili said of his immediate plans after the race.
Race canceled due to a lack of snow.