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Ryan Anderson wins his fourth Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

Anderson also won the race in 2017, 2015 and 2011.

Ryan Anderson and dog.
John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon 2022 champion Ryan Anderson places the Frank Bishop Lead Dog Award on Muskie shortly after winning the race Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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GRAND PORTAGE — Musher Ryan Anderson and his nine sled dogs were the first team to cross the finish line of the 2022 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon at approximately 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than an hour ahead of the next team to finish.

At the Beargrease finish line.
John Beargrease marathon racer Ryan Anderson nears the finish line Tuesday for his fourth marathon championship. He has also won the mid-distance race twice.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

It's the fourth time Anderson, of Cushing, Wisconsin, has won the 300-mile race up the North Shore. He finished in two days, six hours, 29 minutes, 24 seconds, according to Beargrease's live GPS tracking. He also won the Beargrease 120 in 2001 and 2019.

Anderson credited two of his younger dogs, Muskie and Gabel, for leading the team through much of the race.

“The dogs did so amazing there really was not a challenge — there really wasn’t,” Anderson said after the race. “Some people asked me already, ‘How are you feeling? Are you sore?’ And I’m like ‘No, I didn’t even have to run up a hill.’ It’s an amazing group of dogs.”

Anderson ties Nathan Schroeder, of Goodland, Minnesota, and Jamie Nelson, of Togo, Minnesota, for most Beargrease Marathon wins.

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The race began Sunday morning at Billy's bar in Duluth and finished Tuesday along Lake Superior at the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino.

Anderson also won the race in 2017, 2015 and 2011.

At the John Beargrease finish line.
John Beargrease marathon racer Wade Marrs hugs his wife Sophia after taking second place in the race Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribue

Just over an hour later, Beargrease rookie Wade Marrs, of Knik, Alaska, crossed the finish line in second place with a time of two days, seven hours, 34 minutes, 14 seconds, according to GPS tracking.

Colleen Wallin, of Two Harbors, finished in third place in two days, eight hours, 44 minutes, 43 seconds, just 5 1/2 minutes ahead of her son, Ero Wallin, also of Two Harbors, who placed fourth.

Colleen and her team of dogs waited at the finish line for Ero and the two hugged as soon as Ero finished.

Ero spent some of Tuesday just seconds behind his mom.

Mother and son hug.
John Beargrease marathon racers and son-mother Ero and Colleen Wallin move to hug immediately after Ero crossed the finish line in fourth place Tuesday, finishing just behind his mother.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Two mushers on the trail.
John Beargrease marathon racer Colleen Wallin leads son Ero as they near the Arrowhead Trail road crossing Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

“It was awesome. It was like you’re on a long training run but the stakes are a little higher. I’ve never really wished to be passed out there but I thought, ‘You know what? If he passes me, that’s fine,’” Colleen said. “It’s all in the family. So if he would have passed me that would have been glorious too.”

As he embraced his lead dogs in the finish chute, Ero described racing so close to his mom in one word: “Unreal.”

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For St. Cloud State freshman Ero Wallin, competing in the Beargrease “just keeps getting better and better.”

About 45 minutes later, Erin Altemus, of Grand Marais, finished in fifth place. Less than13 minutes after her, Sarah Keefer, of Burnsville, Minnesota, finished in sixth place.

Shawn McCarty, of Babbitt, finished in seventh late Tuesday night and Damon Ramaker, of Fountain, Minnesota, finished in eighth place.

Remy Leduc, of Glenwood, New Brunswick — the only remaining Canadian of four who started the race — was the last to leave Mineral Center, but managed to move up a place and finish in ninth.

Liza Weaver, of Wallace, Michigan, placed 10th, and crossed the finish line just before midnight.

Fourteen mushers scratched by Tuesday evening, leaving a field of 10 .

Warm weather and hard snow on the trails were to blame, said Alex Angelos, a trail boss and judge for the race.

"That trail is hard. It's smooth," Angelos said. "It's like running on concrete."

Sled dogs prefer much colder temperatures and were wearing down faster in the 20-30-degree temperatures, especially teams with Siberian huskies. The harder trail surface also took its toll on the dogs' joints, leading to sore shoulders in some of them.

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Mushers opted to drop out before the soreness turned into a more serious injury.

Last year's champion, Erin Letzring, of Moquah, Wisconsin, and four-time champion Nathan Schroeder were among the mushers who scratched overnight Monday or Tuesday. Joining them were Katherine Langlais, of Glenwood, New Brunswick; Kevin Mathis, of Monona, Iowa; Laura Neese, of McMillan, Michigan; Jesse Terry, of Sioux Lookout, Ontario; Nick Vigilante, of Ely; Andy Heerschap, of Nolalu, Ontario; Alice White, of Ely; Jennifer Freking, of Finland, Minnesota; and two-time champion Blake Freking, of Finland, Minnesota. Three other mushers — Ryan Redington, of Knik, Alaska; John Fisher, of Cook; and Mary Manning, of Hovland — had scratched earlier in the race.

This story was updated multiple times. It was originally published at 4:33 p.m. Feb. 1.

This story originally omitted the name of Jamie Nelson as a four-time Beargrease Marathon champion. It was updated at 3:33 p.m. Feb. 2. The News Tribune regrets the error.

At the Beargrease finish line.
John Beargrease marathon racer Wade Marrs nears a second-place finish Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
At the Beargrease finish line.
John Beargrease marathon racer Wade Marrs pets his lead dogs after taking second place in the race Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
At the John Beargrease finish line.
John Beargrease 2022 marathon second place finisher Wade Marrs, left, and champion Ryan Anderson visit at the finish line Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribue
Two mushers talk.
John Beargrease marathon racers Wade Marrs, left, and Ryan Redington share a laugh while watching Marrs’ dogs at the Mineral Center checkpoint Tuesday. Marrs was running about an hour behind frontrunner Ryan Anderson. Redington, a two-time Beargrease champion, had dropped from the race Monday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Musher arrives at checkpoint.
John Beargrease marathon musher Erin Altemus arrives at the Mineral Center checkpoint Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Two mushers visit.
John Beargrease marathon Sarah Keefer talks to frontrunner Ryan Anderson about the trail during their rests at the Mineral Center checkpoint Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Sled dog rests.
A member of Erin Altemus’ John Beargrease marathon team rests on a bed of straw under blankets at the Mineral Center checkpoint Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Beargrease volunteer at work.
John Beargrease marathon volunteer John Husker enlarges a windbreak shelter at the Arrowhead Trail road crossing Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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