CALUMET — An annual event in Calumet involves some skis and a lot of small town spirit.
The first Great Bear Chase was started in 1981 as a late-winter ski race that shows off the Keweenaw Peninsula. This year’s event had record-breaking attendance and featured 7 cross-country events for racers.
Race Director, Angela Luskin, says the name of the race is a mystery and no bears are actually involved.
Luskin said, “The Great Bear Chase has been around for 36. I actually cannot tell you where that name originated as I haven’t part of the race for that long, but it’s a great name. A lot of people ask if we actually have a bear chasing the racers, but no we do not.”
The race has taken place on the Swedetown Trails in Calumet since its beginning. The first race had only 30 participants. This year, participation skyrocketed.
Luskin said, “The largest participation we’ve had in the past has been 514 racers. We shattered that record this year by 28%. We ended up getting 657 skiers this year. I think there are a lot of things that contributed to that. First of all our conditions are amazing. I think racers are really getting to know The Great Bear Chase too. Each year we listen to their feedback and incorporate new suggestions, so we’ve come a long way.”
Racers are coming from far away places. A couple of racers traveled from Belgium and another few from Alaska. Bringing hundreds of visitors to the area is great for the small town of Calumet. All proceeds from The Great Bear Chase go to the maintenance of the Swedetown Trails.