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Midwest Racing Season Preview

November 25, 2012

Perhaps we could use the excuse that the weather has been unseasonable warm, but we do apologize for the late arrival of the full racing calendar this season...

New Kids

Final headwall before the Top of the World climb, Elk River 20K, January 28, 2007
As of publication in late November, there were over 90 events on the 2012-2013 calendar of Midwest races. This statistic alone is remarkable given the brutal winter (lack there of) last season. In fact, a number of organizers felt it was a good idea to start a new race! Making their debut on the calendar: Woodland Loppet, a 10K/20K freestyle race the week before the Birkie; Squirrel Hill Pursuit, a 10K or 24K continuous pursuit (classic switching to skate) at Minocqua Winter Park on March 2nd, and an early season race, the SMU 10K, down on the hills at St. Mary’s University in Winona on Dec 16th.

Beginning and End

The season kicks off with some of the great weekly evening races in Maple Grove, Duluth and Thunder Bay. Hoigaards again leads the weekend race calendar with the opening Hoigaards Relays held at Hyland Hills downhill area under the lights. Races occupy every weekend of the calendar until mid-March. However, there are still later events on the schedule, with the 24 Hours of Lappe event still firmly placed at the end of the season, April 6-7.

Marathon Start and Finish

Finishing on the streets of downtown Ironwood, SISU Ski Fest
The first big marathon races of the season will once again pit two fine races against each other, as the Seeley Hills Classic, Seeley, WI, and Sisu Ski Fest, Ironwood, MI, will both be held on January 12th. You’ll find some kind of marathon distance event just about every weekend after that, before the big distance events wrap up the second weekend in March with the Great Bear Case and Pepsi Challenge (sticking with their move to the late season).


The weekend before Christmas brings one of the first big movers on the calendar, the Lotvola Cup. Maplelag’s classic race has traditionally been a season ending event, but this year moves up to the front with a December 22nd selection. Additional movers this season include: Chassell Classic on Jan 20th (up two weeks), Erik Judeen Classic on Feb 3rd (also up two weeks), and the Sawtooth International Marathon on Feb 16th (well back from its traditional early January date).


A small grab bag of event changes this season:

  • Jan 27 Nordic Spirit adds a longer 38K division and goes all classic
  • Feb 2 City of Lakes Loppet intros the Ski-O-Loppet, an orienteering event on skis
  • Mar 2 River View Loppet will now offer classic and skate divisions for both 12K and 24K distances
  • Mar 3 Minnesota State Pursuit Champs move from Elm Creek to Theodore Wirth


Tour de Twin Cities, January 28, 2012

For the aspiring juniors, the Junior National Qualifier series provides a number of chances to earn their ticket to the big Junior National competition in March. This year’s events include the opening races in Ironwood, MI, on the Wolverine trails, Dec 8-9, Wausau sprints on Dec 15-16, and wraps up with the Tour de Twin Cities races Jan 19-27 (races both weekends).

The SuperTour series will hit the Midwest again this season, being in the Twin Cities for two weekends as part of the Tour de Twin Cities, and then stopping in Madison in mid-February for a weekend of sprint races.

Get Rolling, Fatty

Maplelag winter bike race, February 26, 2012
One of the new themes this season is the addition of fat tire winter bike races. Not the traditional mountain bike or ice bike type, but the kind that utilizes fat bikes (bikes with 4+” wide tires). The City of Lakes Loppet will host the Fat Tire Loppet, starting a few hours after the regular Loppet ski races on Sunday, and running much of the same course including the Uptown finish. The Birkie folks will have a completely separate event, the Fat Bike Birkie, on March 9th, running on a portion of the Birkie trail and offering 18K and 45K distances.

Passing On

As with every season, there are a few events that are no longer with us, for one reason or another. The Lakeland Loppet at Minocqua Winter Park (replaced with Squirrel Hill Pursuit), ABR Spring Race, The Preseason Physical, Lake Minnetonka Ski Race, and the short-lived Telemarker Challenge. And while missing from the calendar at the time of this publication, we do believe the Balsam Vinter Fest, Stump Farm, and Springloppet races will eventually get a date for this season.


While we do our best to collect updated information on the area races, there are invariably changes to the calendar throughout the season. Short-notice races will be added, on short notice, and some events may be cancelled (gasp!). Please check back frequently for updated information. Finally, watch for the Racing Outlook each week as we detail updates and changes to the upcoming weekend events.

View the full Race Calendar

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