Fundraiser to Help Future Beargrease Marathons

By KBJR News 1

October 19, 2013 Updated Oct 19, 2013 at 9:48 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --The annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon attracts thousands from across the nation and has gained a lot of respect in the dog sled community.

"Many other mushers that I know in Alaska have done that race and it has a great reputation among Alaskan mushers," said Jim Lanier, 16 time Iditarod musher.

This year the race has fallen short of that reputation.

"The Beargrease has really been a primer event here in Duluth for many many years and like any event it has its ups and its downs," said Gunnar Johnson, Beargrease official.

Organizers had to cancel the 2014 marathon due to a lack of funding.

On Saturday organizers hosted a fundraiser to help secure money for future marathons.

"To build a little bit of that excitement, get together, maybe buy some Beargrease merchandise, sell some Beargrease memberships and start to put the pieces in place to bring the Beargrease back bigger and better, not this year but the following year," said Johnson.

Organizers invited long time musher Lanier to tell his stories of competing in the Iditarod.

"It's a 1,000 mile race and it runs from Anchorage to Nome. Dozens of dog teams are in it. It's watched by thousands of people, but mostly by no one at all because you are all alone out there with just your dog team. It's a wonderful experience if you don't mind a bit of suffering," explained Lanier.

He used this opportunity to promote his new book, "Beyond Ophir: Confessions of an Iditarod Musher." While, the 73-year-old is an experienced Iditarod competitor, has never done the Beargrease and says he hopes to.

"I expect the Beargrease will surmount whatever its present difficulties are, if not this year, put the race on again," said Lanier.

Organizers say they commended the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of sponsors through the years.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.
kanderson@kbjr.com