The Story

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  • The Fastenal Parallel 45 Winter Festival and Coop FIS Cross Country World Cup Sprint Finals set to take place March 14-17 are cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic two days before the event. Despite the cancellation, Executive Director John Munger and the Loppet Foundation are awarded by U.S. Ski & Snowboard the Paul Bacon Award for the greatest contribution in competition organization in the previous year for organizing what would have been the first World Cup on U.S. snow in 19 years.
  • Sitka Salmon Shares sponsors the CityTrail Loppet, which is the first event to be moved to a semi-virtual race format held over the course of a week to accommodate for COVID-19 health concerns. The new format proves to be successful with 400+ participants.
  • After 17 years of service to the foundation, John Munger resigns as Executive Director. Ray Aponte is named interim Executive Director. Claire Wilson is named the new Executive Director.
Fastenal Parallel 45 Organizing Committee gathering at the trail to commemorate the planning of the non-event. Photo by Steve Kotvis.


  • The inaugural Fastenal Parallel 45 Winter Festival brings music and SkiCross to the park, thanks to the generous funds from Fastenal. The Winter Triathlon National Championships are added to the winter event schedule.
  • The foundation staff is expanded to over 30 individuals who work with key volunteers to prepare for the 2020 FIS Cross Country Skiing World Cup.
  • The Loppet Ski club attracts more than 90 members for the winter season alone. Loppet Cycle Works adult programs start.
  • Loppet Run 365 is created under the leadership of 1500m World Champion and 4-time Olympian Abdi Bile. In addition to fostering elite running development, the program reaches the Minneapolis Somali community through non-english speaking running groups.
  • The Loppet Foundation and Adventures boards pass a gender inclusion policy, with the intention of ensuring that the Loppet is a welcoming community to all. Read the gender inclusion policy here.


  • The foundation hosts the Masters World Cup and Super Bowl LIVE. Infrastructure improvements and new trails facilitate new events.
  • A bid for the 2020 FIS Cross Country Skiing World Cup is secured.
  • The Minne-Loppet expands to 11 schools. Work to develop stronger partnerships with high school outdoor clubs begins.
  • Financing to complete The Trailhead building is secured. A new office space / warehouse in North Minneapolis is purchased.
  • A partnership with the MN Department of Natural Resources connects the community to state-wide natural resources, introducing expanded programming for women’s mountain biking.
  • The Trailhead opens, along with five new miles of mixed use trails. The snowmaking loop expands to 6.5K, and ski pass sales set a new record in early December. Club Trailhead opens (later named Trailhead+), complete with locker room and weight room access.
  • Loppet Sport is launched to reflect expanded programming. Loppet Cycle Works youth programs start under the direction of Bruce Martens. Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR) launches a “Devo” program, and LNR Juniors take another national club title.


  • The capital campaign is completed — with more than $5 million in private contributions raised by the Loppet community. Ground is broken on the The Trailhead adventure center in Theodore Wirth Park.
  • The “Great Northern” brings the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival together with the St. Paul Winter Carnival and U.S. Pond Hockey Championships to celebrate Minnesota winter.
  • The Minne-Loppet program expands to 10 schools.
  • Loppet Nordic Racing programming expands for all age groups.


  • Three critical agreements are entered into with Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board that allow for the construction, donation, and operation of The Trailhead building.
  • The Loppet “Bridge” debuts at the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival.
  • Two youth athletes travel to Porsgrunn, Norway on a cultural exchange trip.
  • Loppet Ultra Run Club starts.
  • The foundation steps up to run the Winter Recreation Area at Wirth Park. The foundation hires a full time staff to make snow, groom trails, and run customer service. Despite a low-snow winter, more ski passes are sold than ever before.
  • Loppet Nordic Racing wins a third title as Best Junior Club in the country. FAST KIDS becomes TRAIL KIDS. In partnership with Endurance United and the Birkie, TRAIL KIDS chapters sprout up in Hayward, Rice Lake, and Madison, WI, and St. Paul, MN.


  • Despite a less-than-perfect snow year, over 15,000 people combined participate in the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival, Salomon CityTrail Loppet, UCare Tri-Loppet, and Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet.
  • 1,000 students learn to ski in eight Minne-Loppet program elementary schools.
  • Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR) sees exponential growth, including winning the National Club Championships at Junior Nationals for the second year in a row.
  • U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) awards its highest level of club certification – Podium/Gold Certification – to the foundation and Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR), the only nordic-only club in the nation to be certified at the time.
  • The foundation and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board work closely with HGA Architects & Engineers to design the Adventure Center, an $8 Million capital project to create a 14,000 square-foot building and surrounding infrastructure in Theodore Wirth Park. A volunteer campaign committee continues fundraising effort for this project.


  • The City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival expands to a three-day format, hosting 21 events with more than 11,000 participants.
  • The inaugural Salomon CityTrail Loppet begins and attracts over 500 participants.
  • Three elementary schools are added to the Minne-Loppet program.
  • Loppet Nordic Racing wins national titles for boys, girls, and overall, which is the best club team showing in the country at Junior Nationals.
  • The foundation creates a Development Department and Capital Campaign Committee to continue its partnership with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. Charities Review Council certification is received, showing the Foundation meets the standards of governance, finance, fundraising, and public communication.
  • More than 100 trees are planted in Theodore Wirth Park, helping to improve several kilometers of ski trails.


  • The Loppet charges into winter with more programs and members than ever before. Three inches of snowfall the week before the City of Lakes Loppet makes it possible to run the full Loppet course from Theodore Wirth Park to Uptown. All events finish on Hennepin Avenue, thrilling participants who enjoy skiing the streets. The Luminary Loppet came to life with fresh snow, over 1,500 candle-lit luminaries, and over 5,000 participants on Lake of the Isles.
  • Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR) Juniors boast a successful first season as Jakob Ellingson wins the Minnesota High School State Meet, and LNR finishes first in the men’s team competition and second overall at Junior Nationals in Alaska.
  • The foundation expands programming to include partnerships with organizations such as Bolder Options and the Courage Center to begin the Loppet Mentors Program and an Adaptive Ski program, respectively.
  • Robust winter programs carry over into the summer months with adult mountain bike and canoe programs, an expanded Tri-Loppet Summer Festival, a sold out Trail Loppet race, and an LNR Fast Kids Mountain Bike Race Series.
  • The foundation enters a partnership with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, beginning work to open a transformational adventure center in Wirth Park.


  • A tough winter dampens City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival’s plan for a grand finish on Hennepin Ave, and the Loppet Festival becomes a Wirth Park-only event. The foundation adjusts quickly and transforms the Luminary Loppet into a walking event. With attendance at nearly 7,000, the 2012 festival is still the second-largest City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival ever.
  • The foundation hosts the International Paralympic Committee Paralympic World Cup, with athletes from all over the world.
  • The City of Lakes Loppet Nordic Ski Foundation becomes the Loppet Foundation and transforms into a training club for all ages as Go!Training and Minnesota Valley come under the Loppet umbrella and Piotr Bednarski joins as the foundation’s first Head Coach.
  • The Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet almost doubles in size – selling out with more than 1,100 participants.


  • Minneapolis enjoys plenty of snow and cold temperatures throughout the winter. Ten thousand people register and participate in the City of Lakes Loppet Festival events, with tens of thousands more in attendance spectating. The first-ever Skijoring National Championships is held at the Loppet Festival.
  • The foundation hosts one of the most successful Junior Olympics of all time, with future 2018 Olympic gold medalist and Minnesota-native Jessie Diggins sweeping the women’s titles. Athletes from all around the country stay in the Junior Olympic Village in downtown Minneapolis and are awed by the skiing opportunities offered right in the heart of the Minneapolis area.
  • The foundation works with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board to start the Loppet Ski Camp.
  • The Trail Loppet expands to 700 participants and the foundation welcomes Surly Brewing Co. as the title sponsor.
  • Foundation starts a second middle school program with the Nellie Stone Johnson Ski & Bike Team and launches FAST KIDS, a program specifically designed for youth 9-13 years old.
  • Youth programs serve more than 600 children per year in six Minneapolis elementary schools and an expanded middle school mountain bike and ski program operates out of Farview Park.


  • The foundation raises additional funds to secure the U.S. Junior Olympics, expanding and widening Hap & Judy Lutter Trails to create a five-kilometer competition loop that is certified for national and international events.
  • For the third consecutive year, City of Lakes Loppet organizers and participants enjoy moderate temperatures and plenty of snow. Participation in the festival itself increases to more than 7,000, with tens of thousands of spectators.
  • UCare, the Medica Foundation, and the Pohlad Foundation drive expansion of the youth programming. Five Minneapolis elementary schools and more than 500 children benefit from the foundation’s efforts.
  • The Trail Loppet grows to a 550-person event, with a new Nordic walking category. The Tri-Loppet and Trail Loppet begin to provide balance to the foundation, with quality events throughout the year.
  • The foundation partners with Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) to run the Minnesota chapter of “Trips for Kids” (now Trips for Kids – City of Lakes), a national mountain bike program, and holds the first Loppet Adventure Camp in conjunction with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. Minneapolis kids, including many from disadvantaged backgrounds, experience mountain biking, cross-country skiing, orienteering and paddling, many for the first time.


  • The City of Lakes Loppet officially transforms from just one ski race to a weekend-long festival of cross-country skiing in Minneapolis. Near-ideal conditions help expand the City of Lakes Loppet events in scale and number. The foundation adds Penn Ice-Cycle Loppet and a snow sculpture competition on the Mall in Uptown. The Skijor Loppet sets a record as the largest skijoring race ever held, and 3,500 participants enjoy the Luminary Loppet. Total weekend participation increases dramatically to over 6,500.
  • For the first time, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board fully utilizes the snowmaking system to blow in a two-kilometer artificial snow loop at Theodore Wirth Park.
  • The foundation expands year-round programming, testing the Adventure Camp concept and bidding for the U.S. Ski Association’s Junior Olympics.
  • To accommodate the U.S. Junior Olympics, the foundation raises funds to create a new competition ski loop – the Hap & Judy Lutter Trails – complete with a new stadium area and an expanded 2.5-kilometer snowmaking loop.


  • With perfect temperatures and ample snow, the City of Lakes Loppet hits its stride. The Luminary Loppet expands to include an ice pyramid, fire dancers, and the first appearance of the Ice-Cropolis. The Luminary Loppet attracts over 1,300 participants, with total weekend event participation at 3,500.
  • Innovative nutrition and health curriculum accompany the foundation’s youth programming thanks to a grant from UCare and support from Normandale Community College.
  • More than 300 Minneapolis children learn to ski through the foundation’s programming.



  • More than 2,000 skiers register for the City of Lakes Loppet, but low temperatures reduce race day-of participation. Approximately 350 people participate in the Luminary Loppet, despite the sub-zero temperatures.
  • The foundation’s fundraising efforts for snowmaking at Wirth Park accelerate; Hoigaard’s donates $20,000 to jump-start the campaign. The $200,000+ raised by the foundation (combined with Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board matching funds) significantly expands the Wirth Park snowmaking system.
  • A grant from the U.S. Olympic Committee creates a new ski team at Anwatin Middle School in North Minneapolis.
Photos: David J Owen


  • Warm weather again threatens the City of Lakes Loppet. Nearly 400 volunteers shovel snow to build a skiable course from Wirth Park to Uptown. The race finishes for the first time on “the Mall” in Uptown.
  • The first Luminary Loppet attracts roughly 150 participants who enjoy a candle-lit ski around Lake of the Isles.
  • The Trail Loppet and Tri-loppet running races start as fundraising events for snowmaking at Wirth Park. Proceeds purchase a booster pump, additional electrical capacity, and water pipes to enable rudimentary snowmaking at the park.
  • The third Minne-Loppet program is added at Pillsbury Community School in Northeast Minneapolis thanks to generosity of UCare.



  • Three days of 50+ degree temperatures just before the City of Lakes Loppet leads to the cancellation of the REI Tour and 33K events.
  • The foundation evaluates snowmaking options, and dedicated volunteers raise more than $50,000 to help the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board add snowmaking capabilities at Wirth Park.
  • The foundation hires John Munger as executive director and operates out of a tiny Uptown office for the next two years.
  • A grant from Allina enables the foundation to start a second Minne-Loppet program at Andersen Open School in South Minneapolis.


  • The City of Lakes Loppet starts in Wirth Park and finishes on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown Minneapolis. The event doubles in size with more than 1,600 skiers participating. The foundation adds several kilometers of new trails to the course, led by volunteers Piotr Bednarski and Brad Erickson, who was also a Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board employee.
  • Thanks to volunteer Kevin Murphy, the first Skijoring Loppet attracts 12 teams who trot around Lake Calhoun in the dark.
  • The inaugural “KidSki” program (now called the Minne-Loppet program) at Bryn Mawr Elementary School takes off with Claire Wilson and Physical Education Teacher Anita Chavez leading the way.



  • Because of poor snow conditions the first City of Lakes Loppet ski race is confined to the Chain of Lakes. Despite this fact, the event attracts nearly 800 skiers.
  • The City of Lakes Loppet Nordic Ski Foundation officially starts after that first ski race. John Munger serves as the first president, with Kate Ellis as vice president and Corey Brinkema as treasurer.
  • Together the foundation and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board develop the Wirth Winter Recreation Area, which nowadays includes snowmaking and lights for cross country skiing. Volunteers do extensive work to expand the trail system.
  • The first youth program – “Get Outside!” – engages kids to paddle, trail run, bicycle, and more in Wirth Park. Claire Wilson, the Foundation’s first employee, and Hoigaard’s are both instrumental to the effort.



  • A small group of skiers, inspired by Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioners Jon Olson and John Erwin, plan to organize a race intended to start in Theodore Wirth Park and finish on Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes.
  • Abbott Northwestern Hospital is named as the presenting sponsor of the event.