Beargrease moves headquarters to Lake County, looks for volunteers

The Beargrease needs at least 200 volunteers to go off without a hitch. Volunteers help with registration, take care of the dogs at the start line, man phones and take down times, help at road crossings, checkpoints and many other things. Without volunteers there would be no event, said volunteer coordinator and vice president Jean Vincent."Volunteers are vital," she said. "Without volunteers we could not have mushers cross nearly 50 roads safely or race nearly 400 miles."The race, named after an Anishinabe man born in Beaver Bay who delivered mail by sleddog along the North Shore in the 1800s, has a full schedule of events Jan. 23-29. Once a volunteer is registered, Vincent or another organization member will contact them to find out what they are willing to do and when they can work. Some of the road crossings and checkpoints require outdoor camping and may not be for everyone, Vincent said."I get in contact with them to get a sense of what they can do," Vincent said.The next volunteer meeting for those who are signed up to volunteer or are interested in volunteering is 12 p.m. Saturday at the Clair Nelson Recreation Center in Finland."People should volunteer because it's fun." Vincent said. "It's also important to keep the history of our region alive."Volunteers will be particularly vital in Lake County this year because headquarters has moved to The Vanilla Bean Restaurant in Two Harbors. Owner Jason Vincent is also on the board for the race and offered up the space to the Beargrease Marathon. Headquarters use to be in the basement of Billy's Bar in Duluth, but there had been requests to move the headquarters to a more central site by HAM radio operators. According to Jean Vincent, they originally suggest moving headquarters to Finland, but they thought Two Harbors would be a better option for volunteers."Billy's has been great to us and the finish line will still be there, but being in a basement wasn't good for Wifi connections and signals," she said. "Jason offered up space at the Vanilla Bean and we think it's going to be a really good move."Vincent said that there will be TVs hooked up to the live stream for customers to watch the race as it happens. Headquarters is in a part of the restaurant that can be closed off so the customers can still come in and enjoy the restaurant."At the end of the year we'll reevaluate and see how it worked having the headquarters in Two Harbors and go from there for next year," Vincent said.For more information on volunteering or to sign up, call 722-7631, visit www.beargrease.com/volunteers.htm or email Jean Vincent at volunteer@beargrease.com.Editor's note: Check out the story 2008 Beargrease winner Jason Barron wrote for Mushing Magazine. http://www.mushing.com/articles/content.php?vw=2,,10,763

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