A longstanding charity ski race that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for breast cancer research has abruptly ended its run.

An organizer for Mary’s Firemen for a Cure, typically held in March at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, said Wednesday that because of scheduling conflicts with ski resort management, the event has been canceled.

“It was a really tough decision. We bring in a ton of revenue but we don’t want to bring it to some place that doesn’t want us,” David Soutter said.

Shawnee Peak spokeswoman Rachael Wilkinson said it was capacity issues that led to the cancellation, not opposition from the resort.

“We simply do not have the space or resources to accommodate an event the size of Mary’s Race on a Saturday during the day,” Wilkinson said in an email. “The organizers were offered multiple dates, including the Saturday nights of March and the first Saturday in April, but they have declined to reschedule and opted to cancel the event.”

The race pitted teams of volunteer firefighters, dressed in full gear and carrying a 50-foot hose, on a giant slalom ski course. Teams also competed to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a prominent breast cancer charity group in the U.S.

In the past 15 years the event has raised more than $200,000, the largest third-party fundraising event in Maine for Komen New England, said foundation spokeswoman Lori van Dam.

Soutter said the other dates the group was offered wouldn’t work. Teams come from out of state and need to ski on Saturday, and the conditions in early April are too uncertain, he said. Soutter said the group was never offered a Saturday night booking, and likely would have taken it if it had been.

Overall, after years of holding a successful event that brought hundreds of people to the mountain, he felt unwelcome and unwanted by the resort owner, Soutter said.

“What is really confusing about it is that it is a huge money-maker for Shawnee Peak,” he said. “It just makes no business sense to cast us aside this way.”

The race was founded by Mary Allen, Soutter’s mother, to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. Allen, a longtime Shawnee Peak employee, died in 2005 after a 10-year battle with the disease. Her family and children kept the race going after her death.

It is unlikely the race will be held again at Shawnee Peak, and Soutter said he hopes to find a new host for future events despite his connection to the Bridgton ski area.

“I think we are open to moving it somewhere else,” he said. “That is a tough thing to do, but we owe it to our followers and people fighting breast cancer to continue trying something.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.