Organizers cancel Minnesota's Beargrease sled dog race

Associated PressOctober 18, 2013 

Beargrease Race Canceled

FILE - In this March 20, 2013, file photo, Musher Colleen Wallin gives a fist pump to the audience at the start of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon on near Duluth, Minn. Race officials say the event won't be held in 2014, as they regroup following a weather-canceled race in 2012 and a weather-postponed race in 2013. (AP Photo/The Duluth News-Tribune, Steve Kuchera)

STEVE KUCHERA — AP

DULUTH, Minn. -- Organizers of the annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in northern Minnesota have canceled the event scheduled for January 2014.

Race director Pat Olson said organizers need time to re-evaluate interest in the marathon and raise more money. It takes about $50,000 to run the marathon and the mid-distance races, Olson told the Duluth News Tribune.

The year off will give organizers time to gauge interest in the event, Olson said. Mushing has become more expensive, especially for those traveling from out of state.

"Perhaps the interest in the sport has declined," she said, noting that the Beargrease relies on a small group of passionate volunteers.

The Beargrease is one of the most arduous sled dog races in the world, Olson said.

"We have a premier event," she said. "We take pride in that."

The race could be changed and run in stages where mushers rest overnight, Olson said. But that setup would exclude it as a qualifying event for the most famous race, the Iditarod in Alaska.

"It's been tough," Olson said of the decision to retool. "We lost some sponsors, we gained some. We've struggled."

This year's race was delayed for two months until March to guarantee snow for the event. In 2012, it was canceled because of a lack of snow.

The nearly 400-mile sled dog marathon is run along the north shore of Lake Superior.

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