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Saunas and Dog Sledding

The most ancient sauna traditions go back thousands of years to Finland. Saunas offered welcome respite, particularly in winter months, to a tough physical life working in the arctic region fields and forests. It’s easy to imagine how great the soothing heat of a sauna was to those who spent their working hours in the snow and cold.

Another ancient winter tradition—dog sledding—was recently linked with saunas. Along with companies like Starbucks and Subaru, Finnleo Sauna was a corporate sponsor in the January 29, 2009 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon http://www.beargrease.com/about.htm. As a participating sponsor in this prestigious event, Finnleo provided a working wood-burning sauna for use by the mushers and race volunteers.

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon course follows Lake Superior’s rugged and scenic shoreline. It is considered one of the most prestigious sled dog races in the lower 48 States, attracting mushers and spectators from around the world including many from the United States, Canada & Europe. It is one of the longest races outside Alaska, covering nearly 400 miles of difficult terrain.

The event kicked off in Duluth, Minnesota the last weekend in January. Over 4,000 spectators gathered in Duluth to view this spectacular event and 22 teams with up to 12 dogs tested their skills against this grueling course.

In addition to the challenges of the physical landscape, sub-zero temperatures provide a greater concern throughout the long event. Nature’s dominance in this region reigns first and foremost in the minds of the participants as they compete against some of the nation’s leading mushers.
After leaving Duluth, one of the race checkpoints was in tiny Finland, Minnesota. It was only fitting that our heated sauna was parked at the Finland checkpoint. Volunteers and mushers alike enjoyed the therapeutic heat of the sauna.

The Beargrease Race illustrates the camaraderie between mushers, the race volunteers and the communities of Lake Superior’s North Shore. We’re thrilled to have been a part of this great event.
As in Finland, “life in Minnesota and saunas” go hand in hand. One of America’s oldest Finnish saunas (perhaps oldest in North America) in located in Cokato, Minnesota—our corporate home. If you’re ever in this part of the country, please stop by to visit our facility as well as the Finnish Historic Park just outside of town http://www.cokato.mn.us/cmhs/fahs.html
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