Chatfield musher competes in John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

(ABC 6 News) – Southeastern Minnesota musher, Damon Ramaker, competed in the 2022 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon this past week on the Northshore of Minnesota.

Ramaker and his dogs are now home from their two-plus day race from Duluth to Grand Portage. The race totaled 300 miles of hills.

Community members in Chatfield gathered at City Park on Saturday to meet Ramaker and his dogs.

"They’re fun to share. I mean it’s fun to spend a lot of time with them out on the trail and kind of doing our thing but they’re wonderful dogs, they love being around people. So, it’s fun to have them out there and let them get loved up by all sorts of people," Ramaker said.

Ramaker and his dogs attempted the Beargrease Sled Dog race once a couple of years ago and were not able to finish for a few different reasons. But, this year was a big accomplishment.

"Just getting to the finish line this year was incredible and the team actually did really well. We didn’t just get there, we got there well," he said.

The Beargrease race is a qualifier for the Iditarod, the roughly 1,000-mile well-known race in Alaska. Ramaker said back in 2020, he and his dogs ran and finished the Iditarod.

"I was proud of the dogs. They worked really hard and it was a good race. It was a lot of fun," Ramaker said.

Besides his accomplishments in mushing, Ramaker is an ER Nurse at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

There are not a lot of dog mushers from the southeastern Minnesota area, but Ramaker said it’s a unique sport to bring representation to this community.

"I think it kind of helps put our little area on the map down here," he said.

The Ramaker’s have 15 dogs at home.

"We were always around dogs. It was just kind of part of our life but the sled dog thing has kind of been a new thing. Well new-ish," Ramaker added.

Sled dog racing has become a family sport for the Ramaker’s as their oldest kids are now just old enough to race. The two oldest daughters ran their first two-mile race up in Duluth this year.