The Midnight Run

2019 Midnight Run Mushers

1. Lynne Witte, Newberry, Michigan

Kennel Name: Iskristall
Sponsors: dogbooties.com
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Husky
Lead Dog(s): Puddle, Snow White
Number of Years Racing: 12 years
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? I began as a volunteer teacher at the Iditarod in 2000 then began skijoring. Once I switched to a sled I was interested in mid and. Long distance racing .
Where have you raced? Yukon Quest 300 2017
Beargrease 150 2018
MIdnight Run
Copperdog 40,80 and 150

Have a training or race experience to share? (Humorous, scary, adventurous, great memory, etc.) Great memory racing the Yukon River out of Whitehorse – so vast and majestic behind a team of dogs.


2. Jerry Papke, Kingston, Michigan

Kennel Name: Alder Creek Kennel
Sponsors: none
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan huskies
Lead Dog(s): Anna, Bell
Number of Years Racing: 20
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? For the love of the dogs.
Where have you raced? Midnight Run, Tahquamenon, John Beargrease,
Gunflint Mail Run, Copper Dog

Have a training or race experience to share? Catching a runaway team during a race then riding two sleds with a total of 20 twenty dogs and managing to get them stopped – sort of. Fortunately they didn’t tear my arms off while stopping the teams, the other musher got his team back and we all finished the race. 


3. Kelsey Beaber, Mountain, Wisconsin

Kennel Name: Flying K Kennel
Sponsors: Beaber Construction and Caribou Creek dog food
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Husky
Lead Dog(s): Ailer and Tchad
Number of Years Racing: 3
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? My dad had dogs but didn’t race until I started racing with Blair Braverman from Mountain Dogs racing.
Where have you raced? Tahquamenon in Newberry, Apostle Islands, Copperdog the last two years and this will be my third Midnight Run.
Have a training or race experience to share? Let’s just say I have saved my dad’s butt a few times. Last year at this race my dogs turned down a black top road and I eventually got them stopped and turned around but had no brakes until I got to Chatham to fix them. It was an interesting night. I still beat my dad.


4. Ryan Beaber, Mountain, Wisconsin

Kennel Name: Flying K Kennel
Sponsors: Beaber Construction
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan
Lead Dog(s): Tulip and Peace
Number of Years Racing: 3
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? I have been into sled dogs for 18 years but just got into racing with my kids 3 years ago.
Where have you raced? Copper dog, Tahquamenon, Bear Grease, Apostle Islands, and Midnight Run
Have a training or race experience to share? I have been dragged, run over, tangled and run into the woods after deer! It is just part of sled dogs.


5. Joann Fortier, Gaylord, Michigan

Kennel Name: Coyote Run Sled Dog Kennel
Sponsors: UpNorth Land Company
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Huskies
Lead Dog(s): Rocket, Tracer, Nelson and Loki
Number of Years Racing: 19
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was little, watching Susan Butcher win the Iditarod in the 80’s. My parents bought me a Frank Hall sled so I could mess around with our house dogs. A few years later Jerry Papke gave me my first sled dog, Glacier. The rest is history. I’ve been obsessed ever since.
Where have you raced? Midnight Run over a dozen times, Copper Dog 150, Pellston, St. Ignace, Mackinaw, Beargrease 150, Tahquamenon, Ironline and many others throughout the years.
Have a training or race experience to share? Running through the 2015 blizzard in the Midnight Run right next to lake Superior definitely sticks out in my mind. 70+ mph winds were coming off the lake, blowing our entire teams off the trail. I couldn’t see anything. I was very thankful that Joanna Oberg and I ran that last 25 miles together. It was pretty epic out there that day. That memory definitely takes the cake.


6. Larry Fortier, Gaylord, Michigan

Kennel Name: Coyote Run Sled Dog Kennel
Sponsors: UpNorth Land Company
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Huskies
Lead Dog(s): Tuba, Stripe and Inde
Number of Years Racing: 14
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? I got involved when Joann was pregnant with our daughter. I became hooked and the rest is history.
Where have you raced? Midnight Run multiple times, Copper Dog 150 every year except one where Joann raced it, Beargrease 150 a few times, Tahquamenon many times, Ironline and many others over the years.
Have a training or race experience to share? My most memorable racing memory was when I won the Midnight Run with the B team in 2016 and beat Joann’s A team. It was a great day for our kennel, finishing first and second. It also started a trend where the B team has beat the A team every year since. Joann is really going to have to race hard if she wants the crown back from me this year.


7. Joanna Oberg, Grand Marais, Minnesota

Kennel Name: Run Silent Racing
Sponsors: Agimac River Outfitters, Home Hardware Dryden
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Husky
Lead Dog(s): Vader, Viva, Tamar, Nikita, Tris, Bandit, Zorro
Number of Years Racing: 20?
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? Love animals, the outdoors and excitement/adventure!
Where have you raced? Mostly MN and MI, some in WI and northwestern Ontario
Have a training or race experience to share? Getting dragged on asphalt by 9 dogs for almost a block last year at Copper Dog on day 2 start was interesting:) Have a nice scar on my knee to remind me of it:)


8. Elyse Lessard, Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec

Kennel Name: Aiguebelle kennel
Sponsors: Aiguebelle Kennel
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan husky
Lead Dog(s): Dopple / Santa – Cruz / Qimmiq …
Number of Years Racing: 0
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? Because being out on the trail with my dog is the best place to be in the world!!
Where have you raced? Nowhere !
Have a training or race experience to share? Ice of a beaver dam cracking up underneath my feet… while behind me a staff in training running her own sled for the first time!!… good fun


9. Gavin Baker, Almonte, Ontario

Kennel Name: Trail Dancer Kennels
Sponsors: self sponsred
Major Breed or Bloodline: Schroeder lines
Lead Dog(s): Danger, Bellagio, Brew, Aria, Mirage, Diablo
Number of Years Racing: 24
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? it all started with 2 huskies and a GT snow racer……
Where have you raced? Can Am 250, Can Am 100, Kearney 120, Eagle lake 100, Mahoosuc 100, Midnight Run, Beargrease
Have a training or race experience to share? Too many to recall just one……but this sport always gives us mushers much to talk about in the dog yard.


10. Brian Bergen, Sioux Lookout, Ontario

Kennel Name: Gone To the dogs
Sponsors: First mate dog food
Major Breed or Bloodline: Laskin Huskies
Lead Dog(s): Aria and Oric
Number of Years Racing: 5
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? Somebody offered us 7 free sled dogs. I guess at the end of the story it wasn’t really free.
Where have you raced? Mail Run, Beargrease, Midnight Run, Wolf Track Classic
Have a training or race experience to share? (Humorous, scary, adventurous, great memory, etc.) I used to hook up the dogs by harnessing them at their chain and setting them free. When I had them all harnessed I would go stand by the sled and call him and he’ll come on. Till one day my leader decided to leave with everybody and to heck with the sled and me.


11. Al Borak, Roscommon, Michigan

Kennel Name: Caribou Creek
Sponsors: Caribou Creek
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Husky
Lead Dog(s): Rin -tin- tin and Jemma
Number of Years Racing: 19
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? Subconsciously seduced.
Where have you raced? Lower 48
Have a training or race experience to share? I’ve always enjoyed the surprise a well conditioned team gives you on race day. So I’m open to a surprise!


12. Steven Peterson, Granby, Colorado

Kennel Name: Snow Mountain Ranch
Sponsors: Snow Mountain Ranch
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Husky
Lead Dog(s): Eli, Zoey, Aspen, Juniper
Number of Years Racing: 17
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? I used to guide back country backpacking trips and always had a dog that accompanied me. When that dog died i wanted to get another dog that I could do outdoor experiences. After reading about the Nordic breeds I decided that would be awesome to go Winter Camping and it grew organically from there.
Where have you raced? Race For The Gold
Mid Minnesota
White Oak Classic
Wolftrack Classic
John Beargrease
Gunflint Mail Run

Have a training or race experience to share? I had a great leader named Yukon. When he got older I still liked to put him in lead for the first half of a run so that he could teach and then take him out. One day we went for a run in the back country of the CO Mountains. It was warm when we were hooking up, but when the sun goes down here the temps also plummet. because it was warm I had put all my winter gear in the sled bag intending to put it on when the sun went down. It was such a gorgeous run that I decided to go further than I had ever gone on that trail. Finally I decided we should turn around but I wanted to find a tree close to the trail so I could tie off and take Yukon out of lead. We pulled close to a tree so I set my hook as good as I could and began reaching around the tree to tie off when they pulled the hook, dumped me and took off leaving me in the backcountry without even as much as a coat as the sun was setting. They ran back to the truck and I hiked all eight miles out. It turned out ok, but could have been life threatening. From then on whenever going into the back country I always have a back pack on my body with everything I would need to survive in the event that I would get separated from my team.


13. Liza Dietzen, Wallace, Michigan

Kennel Name: Team Evergreen Kennel
Sponsors: Northern Michigan University, Jean Kays Pasties and Subs, Centerline Machining and Grinding
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Husky
Lead Dog(s): Nymph, Sapphire, Rajala, Rainsong
Number of Years Racing: 10
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? There is nothing more beautiful than watching the rhythm of a team of 12 different personalities coming together and becoming one machine, where the trust of the dogs relies on you, and you rely on them.
Where have you raced? UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota
Have a training or race experience to share?  “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face … we must do that which we think we cannot.” Eleanor Roosevelt
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Time to take back the trail.


14. Jenny Gastmeier, Ayr, Ontario

Kennel Name: Rajenn kernels
Sponsors: Grand River Building INSPECTIONS
Major Breed or Bloodline: Siberian Huskies
Lead Dog(s): Pearl and Eda
Number of Years Racing: 10
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? It all started with one dog and a dislike for dog parks. We built our own dog park on our farm and it just continued to expand from there. We now have a kennel with 25 siberians.
Where have you raced? Ontario, Quebec, CanAm in Maine, Tahquamenon and New York
Have a training or race experience to share?  The CanAm 30 last year came across someone at the side of the trail who was unresponsive. Fortunately help was on the way. Then broke my drag mat at mile 9. Overall did well was a fun and challenging race.


15. Thomas L Bauer, Chassel, Michigan

Kennel Name: Otter River Sled Dog Training Center & Wilderness Adventures
Sponsors: Keweenaw Sauna & Heikkinen Firewood & Woodland Firearms & Super 8 Houghton
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Huskies
Lead Dog(s): Triforce and Louie
Number of Years Racing: 30
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? Leon Wellman’s chickens
Where have you raced? UP200, MNR, Copper Dog, Iron Line, Tahquamenon, Beargrease
Have a training or race experience to share?  Lost team in Midnight Run in 2009 and they came back to me!


16. Chad Grentz, Nisula, Michigan

Kennel Name: Frost Creek Kennel
Sponsors: None
Major Breed or Bloodline: Alaskan Husky
Lead Dog(s): Cello and Campbell
Number of Years Racing: 13
How or why did you get involved in Sled Dog Racing? Helping out a friend when I was in highschool.
Where have you raced? Midnight Run, Copper Dog 80&150, apostle island, Ironline.
Have a training or race experience to share? I have a son that raced and now a daughter that is getting into the sport. I enjoy spending time training the young dogs and seeing how they evolve.