Each and every January for the past 31 years, dog-loving life in Duluth has centered around one thing and one thing only: the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.
It’s the longest sled dog race in the US’s lower 48 states, spanning nearly 400 miles over rugged terrain — in fact, this race is such a doozy that sled dogs typically consume anywhere between 10,000 and 14,000 calories per day. And hey, heard of the Iditarod? The Beargrease marathon acts as a qualifier for mushers who want to try their luck in that race. So yeah, it means business.
It also means fun though, and not just for the world-class mushers and their world-class dogs: all the check points and road crossings are easily accessible to the public, and there are tons of opportunities for photographers and campers to enjoy watching these canine athletes having the time of their lives. Oh, and did we mention they host a Cutest Puppy Contest too?
Now, you might be thinking, “Gee, thanks, Sidewalk Dog — thanks for making me want to go to this, but I have a job and a life and I live in Minneapolis and I won’t be able to get up there to watch this awesome thing, and now I’m filled with the jealousy of a thousand fiery suns.” And that’s fair. Not everyone can make it up to Duluth this January — but you can still participate from your cozy couch here in the Cities. We bring you… TRAIL MAIL.
What is Trail Mail?
Basically, each musher gets sworn in as an official US mail carrier before the race. You, dear reader, buy a commemorative Beargrease envelope to put your letters into, and the mushers carry your mail through the trail and eventually to a post office at the end — just as John Beargrease, the event’s namesake, carried letters more than 100 years ago. And then, you know, YOU JUST SENT MAIL VIA A DOG SLED, which makes both you and the letter way cooler than you used to be. Especially because your letter will actually get stamped, “Carried by dog sled.” So people will know you’re legit.
How to Send Trail Mail
- Purchase your John Beargrease Sled Dog Commemorative envelope(s).
- Write a letter to a relative, friend, the Sidewalk Dog pack (yes please!), or yourself. Place the letter in the commemorative envelope and address it.
- Attach sufficient postage to the envelope and return it to the Beargrease office no later than January 21st (Beargrease Trail Mail, PO Box 500, Duluth, MN 55801). So, you know, put your special trail mail envelope (addressed and stamped) inside another envelope, and send the whole thing to the Beargrease Trail Mail address above.
If you play along with Trail Mail, send us pictures! We really want to see those “Carried by Dog Sled” stamps. And the commemorative envelopes. If you go to the event (the race starts January 25, for the record, and there are events January 23 – 29), send us pictures! Basically, just send us all the pictures.