Lack of funding cancels 2014 John Beargrease Marathon

By KBJR News 1

October 17, 2013 Updated Oct 18, 2013 at 5:37 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Chisholm-native Nathan Schroeder is no stranger to the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. He's raced it eight times. He's won twice.

"Seeing all these volunteers and spectators cheering you on. They don't know who you are but they cheer you on, hand you a bottle of water, candy bar, heck sometimes even a beer, its great out there," Schroeder said.

Schroeder was hoping the 2014 race would be his third win, but that won't happen this year.

"I was bummed out you know. I've built this kennel based off the Beargrese Marathon it kind of hurts," he said.

"We've been in denial for maybe two months I think. We keep hoping something would break through. We didn't want to give up and call it quits," said Pat Olson, the race director for the marathon.

Olson said the board called it quits Thursday night after falling short of the goal of $50 thousand dollars to put on the 30th running of the race.

"We were unable to secure a larger sponsor. We've always had that secured by now. This year we were unable to do that and we hesitated going forward," Olson said.

Olson said it's been a struggle to put on the race over the past few years, mainly due to weather.
In 2012 the board cancelled the race.

The 2013 race was postponed by nearly two months.

Through thick and thin Olson said volunteers pulled through to make the longest dog sled race in the lower 48 states happen.

"For those people to come back year after year, we are just so grateful for that along with our sponsors that have supported us year after year," said Olson.

Schroeder said he'll be ready to mush the Beargrease in 2015, but for now he has his sights set on Alaska.

"I'll be a rookie up at the Iditarod, yeah, .they'll be laughing at me like I laugh at rookies at the Beargrease," he said.

Schroeder says he will keep working hard for that race, which will help him prepare for Beargrease in 2015.

The race director says the organization will use 2014 to regroup and raise funds for the next race.

A fundraiser will be held Saturday at Amazing Grace in Canal Park in Duluth.

17-time Iditarod Musher Jim Lanier will speak at the event.

Kevin Jacobsen
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