12 Dog Race

Colleen Wallin




I have been racing since the early 90’s and still loving it! Racing with my son the last couple years has been amazing. We have 11 yearlings in training this year and it’s been fun watching their progress….I’m still wondering who will make the team. Will it be Amp? Vault? Diago? Sid? Manny….only time will tell! We love the Mail Run and all the hospitality from Sarah and crew.

When not racing, I am the Constructor Coordinator for Mike Hoops Construction based in Two Harbors. Thanks to all the volunteers!

Ero Wallin




​I grew up with sled dogs as my parents have been racing since the early 90’s. I’m currently enrolled at St Cloud State University and I’m thinking about majoring in criminal justice. I enjoy any type of hunting but waterfowl hunting is my favorite.

Racing neck and neck with my mom in last year’s BG marathon was amazing, except that she beat me by two minutes….not gonna let that happen again πŸ™‚

Matthew Schmidt




We’ve raced dogs for 10 years now and done this race a bunch of times. I’ll never forget the time it was a complete whiteout on Poplar Lake and I got turned around several times and way off trail into the shore. I finally got back on the trail and I was feeling better, until I saw a headlight coming toward me. One of us was going the wrong way and of course it was me. Dennis Trembley was yelling something at me in French as he head-on passed me going the right way to the finish line. I spun my team around and followed him back to Trail Center.

Nick Vigilante




Grew up in Pittsburgh, but moved to Ely full time in 2013. I first got on the runners when I was 18 years old and have loved it ever since. I’m excited to be running Nathan’s puppy team again this year.

Mary Manning




I have been running dogs for about 20 years-for fun, camping and racing. My wife and I have about 30 dogs in the kennel, many of them retired now from racing. We have been lucky to travel and race the past several years. We are most proud of our “Best Cared for Team” award in the 2016 Beargrease Mid-distance race. We also have a nice collection of Red Lanterns!

Kevin Mathis




I’m from Iowa and have been involved with Alaskan sled dogs in racing for 7 years. My wife, Tera and I have three boys, Kashton, Holden and Lincoln. My lead dogs are Turbo and CC. I have plans to run the Iditarod within the next three years .


Erin Aili





Keith and Erin along with the kids and dogs live in Ray, MN. They enjoy doing all sorts of outdoor activities. When not running dogs they can be found in the woods or on the lake. Thanks to all who put on the Gunflint Mail run, you do a great job!


Erin Altemus




Erin lives with husband Matt and daughter Sylvia near Grand Marais. We have been mushing for 12 years. I work as a nurse at the local hospital and enjoy running the trails myself when its not mushing season. We have 40 dogs.


Blake Freking




Manitou Crossing Kennels is owned by Blake and Jennifer Freking. This year, both of their daughters are running their own teams in several mid distance races and well as handling for Blake and Jen at the Mail Run. We are looking forward to this years Gunflint Mail Run!


Jennifer Freking




Manitou Crossing Kennels is owned by Blake and Jennifer Freking. This year, both of their daughters are running their own teams in several mid distance races and well as handling for Blake and Jen at the Mail Run. We are looking forward to this years Gunflint Mail Run!


Talia Martens




I have been racing sled dogs since the age of 9 but been on the runners since before I could walk. I share the love for the sport with my brother, Morgan and the parents. Outside of dog mushing I enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, and pretty much anything outdoors. I am also attending Northwoods Technical College for welding.

8 Dog Race

Nathan Schroeder




My mushing career started when I was in 5th grade. The school had a bunch of outdoors activities and one activity was a dog sled ride. My passion for mushing started that day. So I begged mom and dad for a husky and I promised them that I would take care of it. Well I got my wish, they bought me a husky puppy, then I asked for two more so I could have a team. Three dogs lead to five then ten and thats how my mushing and racing career started. I have been mushing now for over 30 years and I am not sure I would even know what to do with my time if I didn’t have sled dogs. Mushing has lead me to racing all over the northern USA and in Alaska. I’m a four time champion of the Beargrease and 2014 Iditarod rookie of the year. I have finished the Iditarod 4 times.

Morgan Martens




Morgan Martens, 16, is a tenth grader from Brule, Wisconsin. He was born into mushing and has been raised around all sorts of animals. With mushing in his family, Morgan has an expansive list of races he has run over the last ten years. When not training or racing dogs, Morgan can be found participating in track, cross country running, camping, skiing, fishing, and horse back riding. To support his love of mushing, he splits firewood and sells it.

Ryan Miller




I have been working with dogs for most of my life, but I have been working with sled dogs for about 5 years. I started with hunting dogs, hounds and upland game, then started training sled dogs when I moved to Minnesota from Idaho in 2016. Ashley and I operate a kennel of 30 Alaskan huskies. We like to travel around the Midwest during race season and compete in anything that we have time for. Mushing has turned into a family affair for us, and our kids, Annalee and Ellis are usually running with us, and even compete in a few races themselves. Looking forward to being back at the Gunflint this year. It’s a beautiful place to race and always well organized!

Ashley Thaemert




This is our second year running the Gunflint Mail Run. We had a really fun time the first race, and are looking forward to the beautiful trails and awesome people helping to put things on again. All the volunteers are so wonderful, and we found this race to be an excellent training race for passing teams and dealing with difficult conditions. Our kennel is in Cook MN, and currently houses 30 canines ages 5 months-13.5 years. Most of our free time goes into doing all things dog! It takes a lot to manage everyone and make sure they are all healthy and happy. Its a labor or love. Ryan and I are both looking forward to the race season!


Rita Wehseler




I own and operate Stoney Creek Kennels with my husband Bill. We have 30 dogs in our kennel. I have been racing for 25+ years. This year has been a fun and interesting year since over half of the kennel is 2 years or under. My lead dogs are Mieter, Boo, Ski, Thread, and Saber.

Brian Bergen (1)


Sioux Lookout, ON – GONE TO THE DOGS


I have had dogs for over 20 years. I do property management for a living, which gives me time to train and enjoy my dogs. I enjoy winter!

Brian Bergen (2)


Sioux Lookout, ON – GONE TO THE DOGS



Sally Manikian




A few years ago, when I tried the Beargrease Marathon, I scratched at Trail Center. I got the sense that the trail was just starting to get interesting, more wild and remote, and I wanted to see what the trail looked like after that point. It took a few years, but I’m so thrilled to come all the way out from NH just to satisfy my (and the dogs) curiosity and love of adventure, and race with some of the best teams in the lower 48. I’ve been racing for over ten years, and while I’ve run a handful of 250s, it’s been fun running smaller and shorter races recently. Having stayed close to home for the past three years, I’m excited to take the dogs out of New England.

Home is the mountains of northern NH and western ME, where I work for a land conservation organization creating or adding to new conservation lands. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to race on land I’ve helped protect for public access. I have a non traditional home life, as the guardian and primary caregiver for my two disabled adult siblings, and in the winter the dogs and I move further north to a property with direct trail access. Thank you to my patient and wonderful partner Chuck, to Brianna our superstar handler/ co-musher, and to Patrice and Jack who take care of my siblings this winter, and thank you to the community of folks who support the dogs through sponsoring dogs.


Davin Bellingar


More info coming soon



Derek Nechuta




I have a small kennel of racing Siberian Huskies based out of Central Wisconsin. I rescued my first husky in 2017 and was hooked. This is my 4th year running dogs. I look forward to every moment I get to share on and off the trail with these incredible animals.


Robin Fisher




John and I own a veterinary clinic near Lake Vermilion, Minnesota, working and running dogs for over 35 years. We have 2 adult kids, Ann and Kirk. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and all things outdoors and anything at the lake. Also have an English Cocker Spaniel as well as Alaskan Huskies. We race for fun and enjoy BWCA camping and ice fishing with the huskies as well. Would like to retire and have more time to train the dogs!


Joanna Oberg




My folks and I operate a fishing/hunting resort in northwestern Ontario during the summer and winter in Grand Marais, MN where I work at the Marathon gas station. We have approximately 20 dogs in our kennel with 14 to 16 adult dogs in training for races. My dad helps with the training and care of the dogs, couldn’t do it without his help!!! Love racing in our hometown, one of the funnest races/trails of the season!!

Kirk Weber




After volunteering for many years at the mail run and handling for 2 teams last year I decided its time to get on the runners. This will be my first race and I am excited to be part of the mail run. I am a firefighter in Rochester Minnesota and with the support of my wife and family we are just starting this adventure and growing our kennel. Thanks to my mentors Cindy Gallea and Damon Ramaker and all the mushers who have let me pick their brains over the years.

Cindy Gallea




I am a retired nurse practitioner and have been mushing for over 30 years. I got started running sled dogs when I lived in Grand Marais, MN. Initially, I focused on recreational mushing, but eventually started racing. My first race was the Seeley Lake 200 in 1991 in Montana. My passion for running dogs and racing grew. I ran a variety of races in Montana where I lived for 20 years and also ran races in MN. I entered the Iditarod 16 times, completing it 12 times. I am now in the twilight of my mushing career, but I still have some race worthy dogs and love running them so I will be on the trail again, but I will run the 8 dog race as I make my peace with aging.

James Tackeberry


Janesville, WI


I have been mushing for just a few years. My first race was the Can-am 30 and after that I new I was hooked. I ran that race with my 3 siberians and a friend’s 3 siberians. Now I am a handler for a small kennel. I am learning the ropes on what it takes to have more than just 3 dogs.

David Hicks




Born and raised in Texas. Moved to Ely 2013 for school. Began Cast Outdoor Adventures 3 years ago. Professional guide full time. 32 dogs in our kennel. 1st year of racing. Most all our time is spent breaking or maintaining trails in the BWCA. Looking forward to a fun run with my dogs. My goal is to finish with my entire team, fit, healthy, and happy.



Drew Heskin




My β€œjob” is to raise and care for my dogs and we are always out seeking new adventures. Mostly solo, but sometimes with other mushing friends. This has been my life on and off in Alaska for the last 25 years between other odd and interesting jobs. How do you survive? You ask. Well, somehow it works and we are still alive, healthy and well. My eldest dog (still running with the pack) is 16 years. His buddies are aged 5 to 13 years. We garden and harvest wild foods, cut firewood, haul water or melt snow (or ice – depending on the season) and create our own shelters – living out with serenity in the abundance of nature. Our home has been and continues to be the vastness of nature. Many thanks to Desiree’ at Brave Face for Cancer for sponsoring our racing efforts this winter. The team and I ran in support of her health and recovery about 10 years ago and she is still going strong. Read her story at FacingtheFight.net, where her face paint kits are now available. A sample of which you’ll see in the race this year.