New Beargrease leadership: 2014 race will go on

By KBJR News 1

October 21, 2013 Updated Oct 22, 2013 at 12:28 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The 2014 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is back on following a unanimous vote by the board of directors on Monday to put the race into new hands.

This all comes on the heels of last week's announcement to cancel the 30th running of the race.

Monday's decision to change leadership came as a surprise to the Beargrease board members who were expected to officially cancel this year's race.

Members voted to hand over leadership to a group of people who came forward after hearing last week's announcement that the race would be cancelled.

The president of the board, Pat Olson had cited financial hardships following several years of unfavorable weather.

Tone Coughlin, the current race director for the North Shore Inline marathon along with Jason Rice, who has been involved with Beargrease before, will take the helm in hopes of saving this year's race.

Couglin says the passionate team of former Beargrease leaders are ready to take over a new chapter of a Northland tradition.

"It needs to change. It needs some help and there are experienced professionals that are willing to step up and help its tradition. The John Beargrease name itself needs to live on," said Coughlin.

"To have the continuation and to make the race go on, you need new blood. You can't have the same people beating the same drum every year, they get sick of it. It's just so nice to have new people, new interests, new ideas and new enthusiasm," said the current vice president of the board, Geoff Vukelich.

Jason Rice says they have the nearly $50,000 of what it typically costs to put the race on.

He says they are confident fundraising over the next couple of months will put the organization over its target.

The new members do admit the weather is one of the biggest challenges in planning for the annual Beargrease race.

The new board members were not disclosed on Monday, but officials say the new team could be comprised of several former Beargrease organizers along with others who are passionate about preserving the Beargrease namesake.

The 30th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is scheduled for January 26, 2014.

Jeremy Brickley
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