Watching the Race

Gunflint Mail Run Schedule Of Events

Watching the Race

Spectator alert!

Please understand that in the sled dog world, all times are approximate. There are several events that are not open to spectators, including the veterinary checks and the Musher’s Meeting. Listed below are the approximate times for events for the race.

Volunteers at road crossings get the best views of the races. They are up close and personal. If you want to volunteer for the race, contact Lisa at

Trail Center Lodge is another great place to watch the race. It’s fun to see the blessing of the dogs and the start of the race. And it’s just as fun to see the dogs as they arrive back. If you want to see the dogs on the trail, check out the north end of the trail: we have a spectator area at the Old Blankenberg Pit, where the 12-dog teams are turning around. Great viewing is also available at Big Bear Lodge and Rockwood Lodge. Big Bear Lodge is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Rockwood Lodge is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Please note that Rockwood Lodge does not have bathroom facilities in the winter. They do, however, have coffee and free WiFi.

Here are some quick reminders for viewing the race:

  • The events listed below occur at Trail Center Lodge, 7611 Gunflint Trail Grand Marais, Minnesota 55604.
  • Don’t bring your own dog. Small dogs look like Scooby snacks to the race dogs. Even larger dogs can get into trouble, since the excitement of a sled-dog race can make dogs act out. We don’t want any dogs or humans injured during the course of our races.
  • For those who are watching the race at the road crossings, remember that these crossings should be approached with caution, because the teams are moving very quickly.  It’s more important than ever to obey all traffic laws and drive with extra caution during the races.
  • Feel free to take pictures! However, please avoid using flash while the dogs are moving from their truck to the starting line, or from the starting line to their trucks, since the flash can be distracting. Also, please don’t use flash when the dogs are sleeping–they are working hard during the race and their sleep time is important.
  • Please don’t pet the dogs. While most of the dogs would like it and accept it willingly, they have a race to run and the mushers want to keep them focused on that.
  • Sled dog racing is an unusual sport in that spectators can be very close to the action. Please give space to the dogs as well as their mushers, their handlers, and their veterinarians.
  • Be aware that loud noises and running children can all be unintentional distractions. Please respect our efforts to get our dog teams in and out of the checkpoints with as little distraction as possible.

Friday, January 5th

9:30 a.m. Registration opens at Trail Center Lodge. Mushers do their bib draw at registration.

Vet checks – not open to the public. Schedule your vet check with our chief veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Topham, DVM.

4:30 p.m. Volunteer meeting

5:00 p.m. Mandatory Mushers’ Meeting – not open to the public.

6:00 p.m. Supper for mushers, handlers, vets and officials (must wear wrist band to receive food and beverage)

Saturday, January 6th

6:00 a.m. Breakfast for mushers, handlers, vets, officials and volunteers (must wear wrist band to receive food and beverage)

8:00 a.m. First 12-dog team is off!

9:00 a.m. First 8-dog team is off!

Early afternoon – teams begin arriving back at Trail Center from first course

8-dog teams have a 3 hour mandatory layover

12-dog teams have a 5 hour mandatory layover

Mid-afternoon – Eight-dog teams begin leaving for the second course

Late-afternoon – 12-dog teams begin leaving for the second course

Evening – Eight-dog teams begin arriving back at Trail Center from the second course

Late night – 12-dog teams begin arriving back at Trail Center from the second course

Sunday, January 7th

Early-morning – Teams continue to arrive back at Trail Center from the second course

10:00 a.m. Awards banquet for mushers, handlers, vets and officials  (must wear wrist band to receive food and beverage). Spectators are welcome–you just need to pay for your meal. And Sarah’s food is worth every penny you pay.