Warsaw Run

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The term Warsaw Run at its core means to travel from Spearfish Lake to Warsaw and back, for some reason.

Since 1988 it has also become the name of a just-under-100-mile dogsled race each winter, partially celebrating the heroics of the C&SL Railroad in helping fight a fire in 1981, as told in the book Snowplow Extra.

The Warsaw Run was the name for the run used by the C&SL Railroad from Spearfish Lake to the town of Warsaw. SX08 Bud Ellsberg and others ran it repeatedly to carry firefighters and supplies in the midst of a blizzard.

The term Warsaw Run was also used by the Spearfish Lake Record-Herald employees when dropping bundles of the newspaper. The trip to Warsaw and back was a long run and the "big reward for making the Warsaw run before the fire had been the lunch stop at Millie's Pizza."BAR06

As Mark Gravengood and Mike McMahon started running dogsleds, the idea developed for a race, commemorating the railroad rescue during the Winter Festival at Spearfish Lake. The original idea bet a six-pack of beer, but the event drew greater publicity than expected. As both Mike and Mark fell sick to the flu after the race started, first Mark's brother-in-law Josh Archer then Mike's 10 year old daughter Tiffany substituted with a dramatic finish. "In the end, it took the videocamera to finally settle that Tiffany won the race, by the length of Ringo's nose."BAR7124 The teams were: Mark's Gravediggers- Cumulus, Red, Midnight, King, Shadow and Mike's Beatle Hounds- Ringo, John, Paul, George and David.

The race has been repeated every year since, with the competition growing and improving. By 2001 the race is started at midnight on the Friday so that the finish is on the Saturday afternoon in front of the Winter Festival crowds, although there is still the mandatory four hour stopover at the Warsaw fire station to feed, water and rest the dogs (and the musher).


The Winter Festival and its Warsaw Run Race are usually in January or February.

1988 (2 teams of 5 dogs)

1989 (6 teams of 7 dogs)




1993 (26 teams)




2001 - 14th Race, over 50 entriesSQ24