Press Release 12-29-15




KJERSTI VICK | Visit Cook County
218.387.2788 ext. 103


Mush! 2016 Gunflint Mail Run set for Jan. 9-10

COOK COUNTY, Minn. – Dec. 29, 2015 – Thanks to generous snowfall in Cook County, the Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Race will take place on Saturday, Jan. 9-Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 and will feature two races: the original event, which is a 12-dog, 100-mile race that includes two runs, approximately 50 miles each, over a two-day stretch, and this year for the first time, the GMR will feature an eight-dog shorter and faster race (70 miles).

Mushers (and volunteers) are still being recruited for the upcoming race. Some racers to watch include:

  • Leanne Bergen from Sioux Lookout, a town in northwestern Ontario, who won last year’s race.
  • Mike Betz from Minnetonka has been involved in racing for eight years with previous races including the Midnight Run, Copper Dog, Ironline, TCSDR, and Apostle Islands.  This is his first time running the Gunflint Mail Run.
  • Chad Shouweiler and Jennifer Freking, who have both completed the notorious Iditarod, with a trail that runs from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.
  • Michael Bestgen of St. Cloud, who sells cars by day and races by night.
  • Mark Luttinen who moved to Grand Marais because it’s the dog-sledding capital of the Lower 48 States.

Up to 30 mushers will start and finish the Gunflint Mail Run at Trail Center Lodge, 7611 Gunflint Trail,on Poplar Lake, Grand Marais, Minn. (For non-locals, Trail Center Lodge is approximately 30 miles up the Gunflint Trail.) Here’s a link to the trail map:

Where and When to Watch the Race

According to GMR Co-Director Jack Stone, owner of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply, “the best place to watch the races is Trail Center for the start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, and when they start coming back late that evening or Sunday morning.

“At the north end of the trail, we will have a spectator area at the Old Blankenberg Pit, where the 12-dog teams will be turning around. The eight-dog teams will be turning at King’s Road, which is a good place to watch, but not ideal. There are our road crossings where people can watch as the teams go by, but these crossings should be approached with caution, because the teams will be moving very quickly.  Just a reminder: It’s more important than ever to obey all traffic laws and drive with extra caution during the races. “Volunteers at road crossings get the best views of the races. They will be up close and personal.”

GMR Race Co-Director Sarah Hamilton, owner of Trail Center Lodge and the founder of the wilderness food line Camp Chow, reminds people not to bring their own dogs. “Small dogs look like Scooby snacks to the race dogs,” she says. “Even larger dogs can get into trouble, since the excitement of a sled-dog race can make dogs act out. We don’t want any dogs or humans injured during the course of our races.”

Race Schedule

Saturday, Dec. 9th

7 a.m. Blessing of the dogs

8 a.m. First 12-dog team is off!

9 a.m. First 8-dog team is off!

early afternoon – teams begin arriving back at Trail Center from first course

8-dog teams have a 3 hour mandatory layover

12-dog teams have a 5 hour mandatory layover

midafternoon – Eight-dog teams begin leaving for the second course

late afternoon – 12-dog teams begin leaving for the second course

evening – Eight-dog teams begin arriving back at Trail Center from the second course

late night – 12-dog teams begin arriving back at Trail Center from the second course

The arrivals from both the eight-dog and 12-dog races are expected to well into the morning of the 10th

Online auction goes live on Jan. 1

The total purse for both races is expected to be $6,000, depending on the success of the online auction and the raffle for the new ATV, which is on display at the Holiday Station in Grand Marais. Gifts donated for the online auction include: pictures, paintings from many local artisans and gift certificates for local businesses. The online auction will go live at Midnight on Friday, Jan. 1 and will remain active until 10 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2016.  The link to the auction web site will be shared on the GMR Facebook page.

Thanks to Generous Gunflint Mail Run Sponsors

Visit Cook County, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply, Trail Center Lodge, Camp Chow, Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association, George Humphrey Contracting, LLC, Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway, Apirlaat, Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters, Outdoor Research, Blue Water Café, Como Oil & Propane, My Sister’s Place, Dockside Fish Market, Art House B+B, Beth’s Fudge & Gifts, East Bay Suites, Big Bear Lodge, World’s Best Donuts, Cook County WholeFoods Co-op, North House Folk School, NorWester Lodge & Canoe Outfitters, White Pine North, Joy & Co., Sheryl Hinderman, Java Moose, Best Western Plus, Subway, Lake Superior Trading Post, Sven & Ole’s, Grand Marais Municipal Liquor Store, Lutsen Resort, Betsy Bowen Studio, Windigo Lodge, Nace Hageman, Photography by Travis Novitsky, Voyageur Brewing Company, Hillsound, Bradley Donner, Mark Tessier, Frost River, Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery & Cottages, Beaver Bay Sport Shop, Hughie’s Taco House, Fika Coffee, Sivertson Gallery, Joynes Ben Franklin, Granite Gear, Beaver House, The Dog Hus, Sysco, Gunflint Mercantile and Superior Light Source.

About Visit Cook County – dogsled capital of the Lower 48 States

Cook County, Minn. includes the communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage. Last spring, Grand Marais was named the 2015 “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel, thanks to a social media voting contest. Visit Cook County inspires guests to rekindle their sense of adventure by boldly escaping the ordinary, from Minnesota’s tallest mountains to its greatest lakeshore. Stay in touch via www.visitcookcounty.comTwitter@CookCoVisitors or Facebook.