The Year of the Race: 4 Marathons, 4 Sports, 1 Ambitious Athlete

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DULUTH, MN — Talk about New Year’s resolutions! A Duluthian has cleared his calendar for 2019 as he plans to tackle his bucket list dream of mushing, running, skating, and skiing full-length marathons. Right now, Jason Rice is gearing up for the first leg of his journey, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, which gets underway this weekend.

“I haven’t done any of these. I’ll admit, I’m scared, ok, but that’s why I’m doing them because I’m scared of all four of these things,” said athlete Jason Rice.

Rice is conquering four marathons and four different sports to fulfill his bucket list dream.

“I still wake up and have doubts about this sometimes. I’m human. My mission is to try and somehow quite the doubts in my head about whether or not I can do these.”

Rice is taking on the Beargrease…

“It’s not just hop on the sled and everybody’s happy-go-lucky. There’s all kinds of different situations you come across on the trail.”

The American Birkebeiner…

“You go into the skiing challenge. That’s a different muscle group doing the push off and involving the upper body with it in correct synchronization. That’s a whole different skill set.”

Grandma’s Marathon…

“I definitely have to have the endurance level, and my ability to maintain a high heart rate for a long time. I’m learning my body as I go through this process.”

And the Northshore Inline Marathon…

“Fortunately for me I grew up skating and I’ve inline skated for a long time, so I think that one you’ve got more mechanical advantage.”

The 47-year-old decided to dive into the year-long journey a little over a year ago.

“I was diagnosed with slightly high blood pressure, slightly high blood sugar, slightly high cholesterol.”

His doctor prescribed him a dire warning.

“You can make changes now to your life and keep them going and stay off of meds as long as possible, or the alternative is I can put you on prescription medications young in your life and you’re probably going to be on them for the rest of your life.”

It was at that moment Rice realized he needed to make a serious change in his life.

“I took what the doctor said to me really, really seriously. And I thought, you know I always wanted to do a Beargrease marathon. You gotta be in better shape than people think for this. I’ve always wanted to just once do a Grandma’s just to say for myself, ‘I did this!’ I’ve always wanted to do the American Birkebeiner because I love skiing. And I’ve always wanted to do a Northshore Inline with as much inline skating as I’ve done in the past.”

Rice initially thought those closest to him would doubt his ability to finish all four races. Those thoughts couldn’t have been any more wrong.

“He’s built for this. I’ve never known someone with such determination. He has a very focused mind. If there’s something he goes after he will accomplish it. He’s already accomplished it in his mind. He sees it and he executes, and he will go forward. And I am very proud,” said Rice’s fiancee, Shirley Disterhaupt.

“I’m very proud of him for taking opportunities to do this and get into a better health shape,” said Rice’s son, Carter.

As for making this a yearly endeavor…

“I hope not! We’ll see. That’s a perfectly logical, great question and I don’t have an answer to it right now. Let’s see how all this goes and how tortured I feel,” said Rice.

For now, he just wants to hold himself accountable for this year’s races.

“And everybody give me a hard time about it, hold me accountable. This is a chance for me to change my life before my life changes me.”

Rice has competed in the Beargrease mid-distance race three times, but he
will tackle the Beargrease marathon for the first time this weekend.

CeCe Gaines

CeCe Gaines

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