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Beargrease sled dog race won't start in Duluth for the 2nd straight year

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There's not enough snow in Duluth, so the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is moving its start farther north.

This is the second consecutive year race organizers have had to start the race in Two Harbors, instead of at Duluth East High School, according to the organizer's website.

Jason Rice, who's on the Beargrease board of directors, told the Duluth News Tribune they estimate there will be about 6 inches of snow on the ground in Duluth, which isn't enough to start a sled dog race, while snow depth in Two Harbors will be closer to a foot.

(See the latest snow depth report on the state Department of Natural Resources website here.)

Rice also told the paper there are no plans to permanently move the start of the race out of Duluth.

The change to the start of the race, which begins Jan. 31, won't shorten the nearly 400-mile marathon event, WDIO reports. It will now extend to Grand Portage, before it's expected to finish at Billy's Bar in Duluth on Feb. 3, The Associated Press says.

The race – named after John Beargrease, an Ojibwe Indian who delivered mail on the North Shore via dog sled in the late 1800s – is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states, according to the event's website, and serves as a qualifier for the famous Iditarod in Alaska.

Lack of snow may also affect the Iditarod race – officials are considering moving the start of the 1,000-mile trek because of poor snow conditions in south-central Alaska, KTUU reports.

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Organizers of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon will meet next Sunday. The mild and dry winter is forcing them to decide whether the scheduled January 29 event has to be canceled or postponed. The Duluth News Tribune reports the lack of snow caused the race to be canceled in 2007.