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Beargrease: would better business plan let race turn financial corner?

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Organizers of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon hope a fundraiser held in Duluth over the weekend will start the race down the path to more solid financial footing. But some connected to the race say a new, more business-oriented approach is needed to revive the 400-mile marathon.

Northland's News Center reports Alaska musher Jim Lanier vouched for the solid reputation the Beargrease has built over the years.

That reputation is not paying the bills, though. Organizers announced last week that the 400-mile race along the Lake Superior shore will not be held this winter, which would have been its 30th running.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the news has spurred calls for a change of leadership among race organizers. While the Beargrease once had a paid race director, it now relies entirely on volunteers. The current director tells the News Tribune she's ready to step down, but no one is offering to step up. A former winner of the race and a public relations consultant tell the paper the race needs a new approach and better business plan to get back on its feet.

Mushers who spoke to WDIO last week were frustrated to learn that the Beargrease is taking a year off, with some saying they thought more could have been done to prevent the hiatus.

A forthright appeal on the race's website reads: "The Beargrease needs your help to stay alive."

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