Ashland musher to Run 400-mile dogsled race

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On Jan. 27, Ashland resident Jaye Foucher and 12 of her Siberian huskies will be at the starting line of what many call the longest and most challenging sled-dog race in the lower 48 states, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

The Beargrease Marathon is a 400-mile dogsled race that starts in Duluth Minnesota and travels 200 miles north along the North Shore of Lake Superior to Trail Center, then returns to Duluth. Begun in 1981, the race commemorates the life of John Beargrease, son of a Chippewa chief who delivered mail by dog sled along similar routes in the late 19th century.

The Beargrease is now hailed as the premier sled dog race of the Upper Midwest and draws champion sled dog teams from across the globe. It is also a qualifier for the prestigious 1,100-mile Iditarod Race in Alaska, which Foucher hopes to run with her dogs in 2010.

Foucher became interested in dog mushing in 2000 after purchasing a Siberian husky as a pet. These days she manages a kennel of approximately 22 Siberian huskies, ranging from 4 month old pups to 8-year-old race veterans.

“My goal has always been distance racing, with the ultimate dream being to run the Iditarod in Alaska,” she said. Last year she completed her first real distance race, the Can-Am Crown 250-mile race that runs along the northern border of Maine. The Can-Am is another qualifying race for the Iditarod and Foucher is entered in the race again this year, which starts on March 1st in downtown Fort Kent, Maine.

Both of these distance races are run on a continuous run-rest-run schedule, with mushers and dog teams advancing along the trail both day and night, often in temperatures well below zero, until crossing the finish line some 2 or 3 days later. Training for races like these begins in August with the dogs pulling a 4-wheeler to build up strength and endurance, and by race day those same dogs will have clocked well over 1,200 miles of training that season.

For more information on the Beargrease Marathon or to follow the progress of the race, go to www.beargrease.com.

Source: The Citizen of Laconia 

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