July 6, 2018 at 11:04 a.m.
The Loppet began as a fundraiser for the Chisago Lakes Education Foundation or CLEF and students entering study in healthcare fields.
The district staff/instructors’ foundation had co-sponsors for the Loppet: the local Hardee’s (where Arby’s is now) and Chisago Health Services, a small doctors’ professional association based in the old Chisago Lakes Hospital.
There were 152 runners reported as participating in the first event in 1989 and it cost $8 to enter.
The start line was originally at the Chisago Lakes Middle School and the course went generally west and around North Lindstrom Lake.
Fast forward and Chisago Health Services became an attractive investment for the Fairview system and CHS was bought-out as part of a lengthy evolution in healthcare. The acquisition contract required a new hospital to be built by Fairview in Wyoming.
The original Chisago Lakes Hospital, built by taxpayers residing inside the hospital taxing district, is the structure adjacent to the new Fairview Clinic in Chisago City.
The taxing district may have been dissolved; but Fairview maintained community connections that had been forged, and carries on with localized events like the Loppet, bike rodeos, lighting of a memorial tree, etc.
Eric Schubert, Fairview public relations, said the organization estimates $250,000 has been raised for the Fairview Loppet Foundation over the decades.
He added that after analyzing results of the Community Health Survey done in 2012, income was re-directed towards providing more focus on suicide prevention. Fairview now helps 10 schools with costs for trainings and materials to help prevent suicide, and still awards healthcare scholarships annually.
The Loppet eventually moved from its original base at the middle school to the high school, and shortly after to the Lakes Free Church. Lakes Free has been involved in Karl Oskar Days for a long time, it was also a site where the parade would finish and refreshments and a resting spot were made available. The race was not based there in 2000 but in the 2001 newspaper coverage the church was the base, so the move happened 17 years ago. The church office manager told the Press the church has a water supply and a large parking lot and it is happy to be able to play a role. “It’s been a good partnership,” she said.
Around this time period, the Loppet’s 10 year anniversary, there were 334 runers and walkers, double the number of athletes in the maiden event.
Fairview was also putting Loppet proceeds to use, distributing bike helmets to youngsters showing up at community gatherings.
A decade later-- in 2009-- the most participants ever signed-up. This newspaper reported 650 registered and 558 completed the event.
Over the years a “kids race” was added as a separate event. The registration in advance has gone from $8 to $15.
Last year there were 317 in the event.
As to the pronunciation of Loppet-- there is no clear guidance. If you want to say LOH-pet that’s acceptable, the Minneapolis City of Lakes Loppet organizers use that pronunciation. If a short ‘o’ rolls off your lips more easily that is okay too. The Norwegian word meaning run is Løp which has a vowel that sounds like “uh” and Wiki dictionary claims it should sound more like “lou”pet.