Cushing musher wins fourth Beargrease sled dog race

Ryan Anderson led by a wide margin in 300-mile race

Spectators return for the 2022 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon
Spectators gather along the starting line of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon just outside Duluth on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. The race marks the return of spectators after they weren’t allowed last year due to COVID-19 safety precautions.
Danielle Kaeding/WPR

A Wisconsin musher won his fourth John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon title by a wide margin.

Ryan Anderson had a one-hour cushion in finishing the 300-mile sled dog race in northeastern Minnesota Tuesday evening.

Anderson, of Cushing, also won the race in 2011, 2015 and 2017 and joins Nathan Schroeder and Jamie Nelson as the event’s only four-time winners.

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“I don’t get too excited or show a lot of emotion that way, but obviously I’m super happy and super proud of what I’ve accomplished,” Anderson said. “I’m more proud of the confidence that the dog team has now moving forward with them. They feel like they can accomplish anything.”

About a dozen mushers, roughly half the field of contenders, had dropped out of the race by midday Tuesday. Race officials used the word “punchy” to describe the snow conditions along the North Shore and compared it to running on mashed potatoes. The warm weather caused some mushers to worry about the health of their dogs, the Star Tribune reported.

This year’s race marked the return of spectators along the trail. They were not allowed to cheer teams on last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beargrease, in its 38th year, is known as the longest sled dog race in the contiguous U.S. The Beargrease is a qualifier for the Iditarod, the premier race for mushers, in Alaska in March.