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Cold contention: I-Falls not surrendering ‘cold, bold’ race slogan to Texas town

On the surface, it doesn't seem like much of a challenge.

The International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is challenging the people of Grapevine, Texas, on the question of which is more entitled to rhyme the words "bold" and "cold" in conjunction with a foot race on Jan. 21.

"How bold do you need to be to run in Texas in January?" asked Shawn Mason, president of the Minnesota city's chamber.

At issue are the International Falls Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run, which uses the slogan "Only the Bold Run the Cold," and Grapevine's "Bold in the Cold" run.

Freeze Yer Gizzard, which is part of the International Falls Icebox Days Festival, is in its 37th year; Bold in the Cold is in its 18th. Apparently, neither was aware of the other until recently, when International Falls Chamber member Danielle Schermerhorn was doing some online research in preparations for marketing the Blizzard Run.

"I Googled," Schermerhorn said, and she happened across the challenger from the Deep South.

Schermerhorn's business is marketing; she runs an agency called Zabava. So it's not surprising that she quickly saw some use in a faux rivalry.

"I came across that and at first I thought: Well that's sort of silly," Schermerhorn recalled. "Then I thought: That presents a real opportunity for us."

So after issuing fair notice to the Texans on Tuesday, the International Falls Chamber used a news release on Wednesday to poke a fight.

"International Falls, Minnesota, race officials challenge Grapevine, Texas, race officials to compete for bragging rights on three levels: coldest temperature at 9:30 a.m., greatest number of runners and frostiest facial hair and eyelashes," the news release proclaimed.

Mason added that a Duck Dynasty Halloween disguise flocked with artificial snow didn't count as frosty facial hair.

Ray Harris, race course marshal and crew chief for Bold in the Cold, quickly conceded on two counts but not the third.

"We're expecting 800 runners, which is about average for us," said Harris, who is a charter member of the Lake Grapevine Runners And Walkers Club that sponsors the race. "We'll win that challenge, but they're going to blow us out with the other two."

The Blizzard Run typically gets 250-275 runners, Mason said. "But if we use a mathematical formula based on population, I'm sure we have more."

Indeed, the International Falls population of 6,352 is dwarfed by Grapevine's, which is on the far side of 50,000. Grapevine also is from a somewhat larger metropolitan region: It's the home of much of the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Cold is no contest. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, it was 7 degrees below zero in International Falls. It was 63 degrees at the same time in Grapevine. The average January low and high in International Falls is 7 below zero and 15, compared with 34 and 55 in Grapevine.

Ten-day forecasts are projecting warmer than normal conditions in both communities next weekend.

"This year it looks like the forecast is in the 20s and 30s," Mason said. "I'm actually hoping it will be colder so we can get the frosty beards."

But it can get cold in Grapevine, Harris said.

"Only a few days ago the temperature was 11," he said. "We have been in the 20s with wind chills in the low teens (on race day). ... We've always had hot chocolate and the like."

Since January is the coldest month in Texas, the title of the race is appropriate, said Harris, a St. Louis native.

"Most Texans think anything below 45 degrees is cold," he said.

Surprisingly, it's the International Falls race that has never been canceled, although the race was shortened in 1982 when the wind chill dropped to 72 below zero, Mason said.

This year would be the 19th for Bold in the Cold except that last year's was canceled because of massive flooding, Harris said. One part of the course was 21 feet under water.

Schermerhorn said she hopes Minnesotans will come to International Falls on the 21st so the Blizzard Run can challenge Grapevine in in numbers. "I think we can win," she said.

Harris wasn't ducking the attention suddenly focused on his group's run.

"This came out of the blue," he said. "This should be fun."

To learn more

Registration and information on the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run and the Icebox Days Festival can be found online at ifallschamber.com.

Learn more about the Bold in the Cold run and the Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers at LGRAW.com.

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