A week before the famous John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, 21 mushers from ages 3-14 got together for the second annual Beargrease Cub Run at Silver Creek Town Hall on Saturday, Jan. 19.

The Cub Run, according to the Beargrease website, "is designed to give novice mushers up to age 14 an opportunity to learn about the sport while competing in scaled down version of our larger events, complete with vet checks, official times and an awards ceremony. Families and fans are encouraged to get outside and cheer on the young mushers."

It takes a village to run a race, and one of the organizations that volunteers is Lake County's RACES/ARES team of emergency communication providers. With the hefty title of "Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services/Amateur Radio Emergency Services," RACES/ARES members are tasked with providing emergency communications when common systems like phone, internet and public safety radio fail. They train for this by providing health and safety communications for many public events such as the Beargrease, and the Cub Run is one of their favorites.

"It's fantastic to see the way the families are so connected by this sport," says Doug Nelson, who served as "net control" to keep the radio operators organized during the event. Ten RACES/ARES team members staffed checkpoints, monitored the course for hazards, kept officials informed and visited with spectators.

Cub Run race coordinator Liz Busa and Volunteer Coordinator Jean Vincent are also amateur radio operators, so they understand the value of enthusiastic and practiced volunteers. "The Cub Run is a lot of fun, but it would not be possible without a whole lot of wonderful volunteers," Busa said.

Learn more about the Beargrease Cub Run at Beargrease.com/cub-run and about Lake County RACES/ARES team from BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County emergency manager, at bj.kohlstedt@co.lake.mn.us.