Volunteers plan first city ski race

A group of cross-country ski enthusiasts is organizing the first annual City of Lakes Loppet -- with a signature 35-kilometer (22-mile) race starting at Theodore Wirth Park and ending at Lake Calhoun.

If all goes according to plan, the two-day event, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2003, also will have a free children's race (the Mini-MinneLoppet), a 10K family race (the MinneLoppet), and sprint races on Lake Calhoun, said Chair John Munger.

The group, calling itself the City of Lakes Ski Education Foundation, has launched a website, www.cityoflakesloppet.com. It is a work in progress, but will eventually allow people to register and get route maps and other event information.

The group is applying for non-profit status, Munger said. "If we have profits, we will set aside some for future years and some will be used to get inner-city kids into skiing, and promoting skiing in general," he said.

The organizers worked with staff from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board this year to improve the ski trails in Wirth Park. They have applied to the Park Board for the appropriate permits to hold the ski races on parkland, including permission to erect tents and lights on Lake Calhoun.

Early registration for the 35K race should be $30, Munger said.

According to a letter the group sent to the Park Board Nov. 5:

  • The event would kick-off Friday Jan. 31, 2003, 7:30 p.m., with the children's ski race on Lake Calhoun, followed by sprint races of roughly one kilometer.

  • The 10K (6-mile) family race would start at 9 a.m. Saturday Feb. 1, 2003. The 35K race would start at 10 a.m. Both would start at Wirth Park and end at Lake Calhoun, with the City of Lakes Loppet taking a more circuitous route.

    The long course would start near the Wirth ski chalet, wind through golf course trails, pass by the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, cross I-394 on Wirth Parkway, cross Brownie Lake, wangle around Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles, continue through the Isles-Calhoun channel and finish around the Calhoun concession stand.

    The organizers would arrange for buses to Wirth Park to avoid parking problems. Event details may change.

    Abbott Northwestern Hospital is the event's title sponsor, providing both financial and medical help, Munger said.