Musher Leanne Bergen of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, and her dog team won the 100-mile Gunflint Mail Run, held Saturday and Sunday along the Gunflint Trail in Cook County.
Bergen held off Frank Moe of Hovland by about 15 minutes to win the race. The Gunflint Mail Run started at Trail Center Lodge on the Gunflint Trail on Saturday night, with mushers completing a 50-mile loop down to Devil Track Lake and back up to Trail Center. After a layover of about 6 hours, the mushers completed the same loop Sunday morning.
Mike Bestgen of St. Cloud finished in third place. Nine teams completed the course; three teams dropped out before starting Sunday morning.
Teams, volunteers and spectators braved temperatures in the teens and 20s below zero; the Grand Marais airport - located near Devil Track Lake - reported a wind chill of 46 below zero Sunday morning. Despite a lack of snow elsewhere in the region, organizers reported good trail conditions for the race.
The Gunflint Mail Run name dates to a race held in the 1970s; it was revived in 2012 after the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon was canceled that year because of poor snow conditions. The race name was brought back again this year in place of the Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race, held the past two winters in Cook County in cooperation with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Scheduling conflicts prevented the band from being involved in the race in 2015.
- For more information on the Gunflint Mail Run, go to its Facebook page: facebook.com/GunflintMailRun
- The 2015 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is scheduled to begin Jan. 25 in Duluth.
2015 GUNFLINT MAIL RUN
100-mile course (two 50-mile loops)
In Cook County
1. Leanne Bergen, 10 hours 35 minutes, 52 seconds; 2. Frank Moe,10:49:53; 3. Mike Bestgen, 10:55:21; 4. Mike Hoff, 11:11:00; 5. Jennifer Freking, 11:11:05; 6. Blake Freking, 11:20:18; 7. Erin Altemus, 12:13:15; 8. Colleen Wallin, 12:18:12; 9. Kevin Malikowski, 12:37:43. Scratched: Odin Jorgenson, Brian Bergen, Teri Gapinski.