DULUTH (AP) -- The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, the longest sled dog race in the Lower 48 states, is off and running.

The 300-mile race from Duluth to Grand Portage kicked off Sunday with 15 mushers and their teams setting out. More racers are tackling two shorter distances.

The Beargrease is a qualifier for the Iditarod, the premier race for mushers, in Alaska in March.

The racers made do without the thousands of fans who usually turn out for the race start, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 37th running should wrap up by Tuesday afternoon.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

7 Things Minnesotans Miss Most About Summer in the Dead of Winter