Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon canceled due to lack of snow
For only the second time in its history, a lack of snow has forced the cancellation of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.
The race's board of directors decided to cancel the race Sunday evening, two weeks before its scheduled Jan. 29 start, and announced the decision today.
"With the safety of the mushers, dogs and many volunteers at the forefront of the board's minds, poor snow conditions will not allow the race to be safely run," according to a news release.
Twenty-seven racers were registered for the marathon and 34 for the mid-distance event.
Marathon racer Colleen Wallin was disappointed by the decision to cancel the race rather than postponing it and hoping for enough new snow to run it later.
"It doesn't make any sense to me not to try to hold it March 4," she said. "Where is the dedication to the mushers? We put our heart and soul into this race. I am very disappointed. I'm going to go run my dogs."
Rescheduling the race would have run into conflicts with other races, Geoff Vukelich, president of the board, said.
"Each race kind of has its own weekend," he said. "A lot of our volunteers are signed up to be part of other races that land on our backup date. You don't want to pull veterinarians or race officials away from other races they are signed up for."
"It was a very, very hard decision," he said. "We did not want to cancel, but logistically we just had to."
The only other time the race was canceled was in 2007, although it has been postponed several times, Vukelich said, and its start was moved at least twice -- once to near Two Harbors and once to Grand Portage. The Beargrease was first run in 1980. It became an annual event in 1984.
Although the race will not be held, event organizers will hold the Jan. 27 gala and silent auction and Jan. 28 cutest puppy contest.