This past week has been so full of fun and possibly even a few new family traditions. January 31st- February 3rd was the 32nd running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. After a month of preparing through play, activities and having had a real life mushing experiences the children from Secret Forest Playschool were looking forward to race day.
On a sunny Sunday, with temperatures well into the 40's, many of the families (parents, grandparents, siblings and friends) from Playschool gathered at the Highway 2 gravel pit, just outside Two Harbors, to see for themselves what all of the excitement was about. With the barking dogs, the giant snow mountain and the starting line in the distance the scene walking up to the starting line was electric!
Watching the dogs jump in the air with anticipation of their journey ahead and seeing their mushers come by every 2 minutes was thrilling! After more than an hour of cheering and wishing the teams well the crowd cleared and the race was on (for some their journey would be over in 38 miles, for others 119 miles and for some others not for 383 miles).
From our classroom the children at Secret Forest Playschool continued to follow the race as the teams traveled up the trail (and then back down). We watched the GPS tracking map, the timing sheet and (their favorite) iFan Sports live video stream. These features allowed us to be be a part of the race from a distance. We tracked everyone who raced (paying special attention to the marathon teams).
It was well past bed time (for 3-5yr olds) on Wednesday night when Beckie Hacker and her team arrived in to Billy's Bar. With her headlight shining and her dogs guiding the way down the cold trail she we meet with a crowd and warm welcome. And you better believe that some of Playschool's mini mushers were there to congratulate her :)
This year the Red Lantern was given to Beckie, for being the last musher to complete the race. In my eyes, this is the person that deserves the most attention as she brought with her the most important lesson... to never give up. Beckie finished her race in just over 39 hours total, after overcoming injury, challenges and likely a few disappointments. Beckie is a great role model for these mini mushers; teaching them it's not always going to go according to play, be easy, or fun but that if you go out and finish what you started in the end it will be worth it.
Congratulations to all of the mushers, their dogs and handlers! And a BIG "thank you" to the board, volunteers and supporters. We can't wait to join you again next year, for the 33rd annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.
I am Meghan Morrow, the founder and lead teacher at Secret Forest Playschool in Duluth, MN. This blog is a way for me to share some of the amazing moments that I witness and the lessons that I learn from some of the wisest people I know... children.