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Women claim the top three spots in the Beargrease 120 sled dog race

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FINLAND, MN -- The mushers competing in the Beargrease 120 crossed the finish line early Monday morning.

The mushers took off on Sunday at Billy's Bar in Duluth, making their way to Finland. A race mushers have been practicing all year for

An award ceremony took place at the Trestle Inn Monday afternoon for all those who competed in the 120 mile race.

This year, the top three finishers were all women, 3rd place was Steph Love, Rita Wehseler came in 2nd, and 1st place went to Erin Schouweiler.

The mushers said this year the warmer weather played a big role, keeping the dogs hydrated and cool was top priority.

"Hydration and nutrition is really important..a lot of times you see booties on dogs feet in races, we had stuff for their feet but not booties, they dump heat out of their feet so having the booties off for them it keeps them cooler.", Stated Steph Love.

First place winner Erin Schouweiler, a seasoned veteran of mushing, said she felt the pressure to preform well, seeing her mother in law Martha schouweiler is a 4 time Beargrease 120 champion.

"This is the first year…I got married to chad last Beargrease, so this is the first year as like a whole family…Chad and Martha have been quite the dynamic duo for years, so it was kinda nerve racking to be the runners of a really good team.", Said Schouweiler.

Rita Whehsler came in 2nd place.

She had a bit different experience. she was in third most of the way right on the heels of 2nd, on the final stretch, her dogs were able to pull through with all they had to give.

"When I left the third checkpoint, the only thing I wanted from the race was for my dog team to come back, like my fast…and they were incredible.", Wehseler said.

A finish that meant a lot for Wehseler.

"Because I've been around the Beargrease for 25 plus years..I was almost crying at the finish line, it really meant a lot to me, I have never finished higher than 4th in this race.", Stated Wehseler.

Being that the top three were all women, the mushers agreed it was really special to see.

"I think its wonderful to see the women mushers out there competing one on one, equal playing field, its really fun.", Mentioned Wehseler.

No matter the place the mushers finish, the experience of racing through the Northland is what it's all about.

"It's a really amazing experience, I feel so proud to be apart of it.", Said Love.

Kaitlyn Moffett

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