This winter’s John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon would have marked the 30th anniversary of the grueling race that stretches for nearly 400 miles down snowy trails along Lake Superior. But organizers, citing a lack of funds and a need to regroup, canceled the race slated for the last week of January.
The race needs about $50,000, some of which goes to purses to attract elite mushers. Race Director Pat Olson said several sponsors had bowed out.
Organizers will focus on raising money during the year off and will consider dividing the race into stages, ending its status as a qualifier for the renowned Iditarod in Alaska.
It’s not the first time in recent history the Beargrease has run into trouble. Two years ago, it was called off because of a lack of snow. Last year’s race was delayed until March to make sure there was sufficient snow cover. The race takes its name from the son of an Anishinabe chief who delivered the mail along Lake Superior in the late 19th century.