Breckebeiner Nordic ski and snowshoe event benefits Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center |

Breckebeiner Nordic ski and snowshoe event benefits Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center

The Breckenridge Grand Vacations team dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one year for the Breckebeiner 60K Nordic Ski-a-thon and Showshoe Bash. The event benefits the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.
Special to the Daily |

Breckebeiner 60K Nordic Ski-a-thon and Snowshoe Bash

Date: Saturday, March 21

Time: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Location: Breckenridge Nordic Center, 1200 Ski Hill Rd., Breckenridge

Cost: Minimum donation of $25 for adults, $10 for children. All proceeds benefit the BOEC Tuition Assistance Fund.

More info: call (970) 453-6855 or email:

It’s not every day that a pack of people dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles zoom around the trails at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. But if there is any day to expect that kind of thing, it’s the annual Breckebeiner ski-a-thon.

This will be the 13th year of the event, officially titled the Breckebeiner 60K Nordic Ski-a-thon and Snowshoe Bash. On Saturday, March 21, teams and individuals will take to the tracks, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to raise money for each kilometer they complete. All funds raised will be donated to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, a local nonprofit that provides educational outdoor programs to people with disabilities and special needs.


The BOEC has existed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization for the past 38 years. Among those who benefit from the organization’s programs are adults, children and injured veterans. Winter programs include adaptive snowsports lessons, like skiing and snowboarding. For the past 27 years, the BOEC has partnered with Disabled Sports USA to put on The Hartford Ski Spectacular, a five-day-long event that brings people with disabilities from all over the United States, including wounded veterans, to the slopes of Breckenridge Ski Resort to learn how to ski and snowboard. Classes range from beginner to those training to compete professionally.

Summer offers a variety of camp opportunities, from canoeing to a ropes course, over one or several days.

“The BOEC has a huge and wonderful and highly recognized Alpine ski program,” said Therese Dayton, who runs the Breckenridge Nordic Center with her husband Gene, one of the co-founders of the BOEC. “I don’t know that people always have the full picture, if you’re not intimately involved in it, that the BOEC is a very well-known year-round program. There’s availability for programming this summer.”

The donations raised from the Breckebeiner event will be specifically directed toward a fund that provides financial assistance for those who cannot afford the BOEC program fees. In the 2013-14 fiscal year the organization’s programs served 2,275 participants from 41 states and six countries. Of those participants, 32 percent took advantage of $165,409 worth of scholarships.


The Breckebeiner came into being in conjunction with Gene Dayton’s 60th birthday. He wanted to use his birthday to help a good cause.

“I do not just want a party for myself, I really want to do something where I set a goal, ski a certain distance and raise money for a nonprofit,” Therese recalled Gene telling her.

That first time, Gene asked his friends and family to cross-country ski with him to raise money for the BOEC. Since then, the event has grown, and locals and visitors alike participate, many wearing wigs and outlandish costumes.

The name Breckebeiner is a play on “birkebeiner,” a word with Norwegian roots. The American Birkebeiner is a cross-country ski race (54K for classic skiers, 50K freestyle). That race was named after the Birkebeinerrennet, a cross-country ski race in Norway, which commemorates a historical event in which two men carried the young king of Norway on skis through treacherous terrain during the 12th century.

The Breckebeiner is a colorful, festive affair, with costumes encouraged and food donated by Vail Resort’s EpicPromise branch. Teams and individuals collect donations based on how many kilometers they ski, with the goal to reach a full 60. They don’t have to do all 60 kilometers (about 37.2 miles) in one day, however. Since last Saturday, March 14, participants have started counting their miles at Summit’s Nordic centers. Many choose to complete the 60K in small increments leading up to the Breckebeiner.

Day-of participation, however, is perfectly fine as well. A minimum $25 donation per adult ($10 per child) is all it takes to jump in this Saturday. Rental equipment will be available at a discounted rate. Spectators will have plenty to cheer about as the skiers loop comes close to the lodge.

Both classic and skate-style skiers can take to the intermediate groomed terrain. Loops of 6 and 3 kilometers will be marked, as well as a 3-kilometer snowshoe course. For very young participants, there will be a 1-kilometer snowshoe course featuring a treasure hunt at noon.

“I like the enthusiasm of the participants, and it’s for such a good cause,” said Mary Johnson, who has been an employee of the Breckenridge Nordic Center for 15 years. “I like the fact that people will dress up; they get into the spirit of things.”

Local doctor Craig Louis Perrinjaquet, known around town as Doc PJ, is a frequent participant and fundraiser for the Breckebeiner. The atmosphere is “kind of whatever you want it to be. You can get in your zone and just crank out 60K, or you can have hot cocoa and donuts and dress up and party with your friends,” he said. “It’s good for your health — exercise and fun and good mojo.”

Organizers hope the event will match, if not exceed, last year’s fundraising amount.

“Last year we broke the record of $30,000 so it would be awesome to hit that again,” said BOEC development director Marci Sloan.

Whether coming as an individual or a team, fully costumed in wacky wig and cape or just normal clothes, whether local or just visiting, everyone is encouraged to attend the event.

“As people are skiing around there’s always entertainment and it’s very festive,” Therese Dayton said. “It’s really something to look forward to.”

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