Chapter 26 | Saturday, February 18th, 2023
Additional details coming soon!

BATB Couse and Venue Changes for 2023


BATB would like to make a final post and comment regarding recent misrepresentations, misleading statements and incorrect assumptions that have filled the pages of social media and the Ashland Daily Press in recent days. We present this with no ill intent but simply to present the truth for those who desire a complete understanding. This is our final statement about the matter and is a means to move forward and on to the next chapter. 

BATB has a 26-year history of bringing a world class and extremely unique event to the Bay area. The 501c3 organization is 100% volunteer driven and provides critical opportunities for other nonprofits to benefit from fundraising activities. In addition to being a source of nonprofit funding, the event generates significant positive economic impact to the region. Finally, the event also serves one of its founding intentions of encouraging folks in the region to get out and exercise while enjoying this gem we call Chequamegon Bay.

BATB has undergone many changes as it has bent and morphed to deal with significant growth and other challenges. The event has grown from its original challenge of fund raising for the Tricounty Medical Society and The Friends of the Washburn Public Library to support infant car seat distribution, bike helmets for regional children, funding of the learn to read program and support of the Washburn library general expenses and programming. 

With the success of the event and need for a massive influx of volunteers the BATB organization shifted from a model of simple volunteerism and foundation distribution of funds to an organizational structure of work group volunteers. Today the immense amount of work to pull off such a phenomenon is completed in its entirety by volunteers from nonprofit organizations who then benefit with funds from the proceeds of the event.

As with many organizations, with success comes many new challenges. Our event depends upon these work groups, and the organizations in turn depend upon the success of BATB. 

In recent years, growth, the economy, and our aging infrastructure have created increased expenses and financial hardships. We have worked with generous sponsors and others to come up with creative solutions to hold the annual event while maintaining funding to the charitable work groups while keeping entry fees affordable for all to participate.  Recent capitol expenses have included major grooming equipment repairs and festival tent replacements. The reality is that this model we have chosen is financially fragile. Evil curve balls from mother nature, including 60 degree race days, failure to provide the promised snow, and even a nasty pandemic can wreak havoc with the budget. In years in which the budget didn’t balance, BATB board members have graciously carried the debt burden so that volunteer groups would continue to receive their fundraising payouts. 

With all of the volunteer and financial challenges, BATB has been constantly reevaluating its organizational structure, financial model, and race day logistics. Many changes have been made through the years and hopefully many more will make us viable. 

The following, again, is intended to provide truths that set the record straight, it is not intended to point fingers or blame. The heart and soul of BATB lies with all of the bay area and hopes to include and benefit everyone. 

Our regional cities have not been exempt from the financial struggles that all of us have experienced. Over the past several years, the City of Washburn has requested funding from BATB. Although our structure would allow a city group to participate in volunteer fundraising groups, we did not have the finances to support donations to the city. The city raised the issue of costs of additional policing, increased demand for public works plowing, EMS services, and additional administrative fees. BATB pointed out that we provide additional law enforcement by hiring the Bayfield County Sherriff’s reserves to monitor and patrol the event. We do not request additional services from EMS as we have physicians, nurse practitioners and other medical personnel along the course. We provide rest stations, first aid care at medical tents and medical transport as needed. We have repeatedly requested the city not assist in plowing. Timing of plowing and detail of plowing are critical to successful tent placement and finish line creation. In short, we have worked hard to mitigate any and all city expenses so that this event would be a benefit to the city and its taxpayer base. 

At last year’s meeting, the City Council approved BATB for 2022 with the amendment requiring BATB to work out a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City Administrator to pay the city for the above claimed expenses associated with the event. Please see the attached minutes from that meeting and the email to Dalton Collins who was representing BATB.

Through the summer, BATB met with the Assistant City Administrator on multiple occasions. We attempted to explain our organizational struggle and our inability to come up with thousands of dollars for expenses we did not feel were justified. We explained that we may need to change our venue if we had to incur significant costs from the City. We also raised the question of how we could justify a $6,000 payment to the City of Washburn and not anticipate a similar expense in Ashland. During this time, we met with City of Ashland officials who expressed ongoing support and stated that our MOU was not about money. The economic benefit to the region for all communities was emphasized. We were supported in our efforts to continue the event. 

Despite these meetings and efforts, the Assistant City Administrator insisted BATB would be required to pay a fee above that of other events and organizations to the tune of about $4,000. When we could not commit to that, the City Administrator told organizers he as well as other city staff would recommend the request be denied.

The Assistant City Administrator made a formal recommendation to the council, twice, that the BATB 2023 event application be denied. Please see this recommendation in the attached information below. In an attempt to provide a complete picture and information about our event, including the efforts made to limit any expenses to the city while providing this economic stimulus, we wrote a summary letter to the council members for their consideration before the discussion at the September meeting. In that letter we emphasized that we would need to look at alternative routes and venues if the city felt they had excessive expenses that would require them to increase the fees for BATB above that which they charge other events. Events such as Superior Vista Bike Tour, Brownstone Days, Bike across the Bay, Board across the Bay, Homecoming, etc. Please see the attached copy of the letter from BATB to the Washburn Mayor and City Council Members. 

Benjamin Thoen from the BATB board and Tom Fitz of the Board represented BATB at the meeting on October 10th to present our standard application as has been done for the prior 26 years, and to answer any questions. That portion of the meeting is linked below for those who would like to see it. As BATB explained the efforts we take to mitigate the costs to the city, various concerns were raised. The main focus became the issue of billing the event for time and services the city incurs while plowing the event venue for BATB. BATB emphasized that we have equipment that can plow and create the venue with less footprint from our tracked groomers and at no cost to the city. It was then suggested by a council member that this was not an option due to liability issues. To this point the City of Washburn Attorney explained that this WAS NOT a liability issue to the City.

Other council members then claimed that there was damage to the park and messes to be cleaned up in prior years all at the expense of the city. This incorrect statement has been continued on social media by a city council member. City officials are reminded that after the event, the area is inspected by the Washburn Public Works Department and the condition and cleanliness is signed off on. In EVERY year for the past 25 years, we have received our damage and security deposit back in full. Please see records below.

At the end of the night, the City of Washburn voted on an admittedly confusing motion to approve BATB. The motion had been made with an amendment that BATB be responsible for payment of plowing services, the motion was then changed to not include the plowing amendment but with the understanding that BATB must come to a MOU with the City Administrator for plowing services and appropriate reimbursement. Although recent social media posts by elected officials state otherwise, the video is available for those who would like to review it. Additionally, below we include the email the following morning from the Assistant City Administrator requesting a meeting to expedite the necessary MOU. His prior emails documenting the need for payments are included as well. 

Facing these additional expenses, and the mounting financial pressures above, as well as addressing the issue of volunteer burnout after 25 years of challenges, BATB reviewed all the options for our immediate future and long-term sustainability. The decision was made to consolidate into a single start and finish venue. This was not without great pain, acknowledging the history and romance of a point to point, Ashland to Washburn event. However, we realized this would dramatically reduce costs, allow us to keep the event affordable for all involved, and decrease the demands for a slowly dwindling number of volunteers. We also realized we could maintain the spirit and flavor of the event by running from Kreher park in Ashland, in need of returning the reclaimed Superfund Site into the life of the city and run completely across the bay to the sea stack south of Washburn. This would increase the length to approximately 11km, depending on ice conditions, but significantly reduce costs and volunteer demands.

The cost savings from these changes is significant. Busing participants alone costs the event nearly $9,000. The entire savings is roughly $20,000 which will dramatically improve our ability to whether the storms of mother nature and the economy.

It is important to repeat and emphasize that the event did not change venue or course because of the Washburn City Council or their need for reimbursement of what they felt were related expenses. This sentiment was a misquote by the Daily Press and does not represent the truth. The new fee simply forced us to again reevaluate our model and make changes that were, quite honestly, probably overdue. As you can see from the included packets, videos, and email threads, BATB did not drop this suddenly on Washburn as the Daily Press allowed city administrators to suggest. 

For anyone interested in the details, those who feel they need evidence of these truths, please refer to the documents, emails, and videos below. 

Our mission remains the same. We aim to produce a world class event unique in so many ways for the benefit of all of our Bay Ara community. We Appreciate the outpouring of support from so many of you during these changes. 

We love Washburn, we love Ashland. Our mission is for you.

While bringing this event here, we are motivated to keep the event in in financial reach of every citizen while providing for outstanding fundraising opportunities for our work group volunteers. For a list of those beneficiaries please refer to the website page. 

We hope you will benefit from the event coming to our area. We hope you will join us on the lake. We are excited for this next chapter of Book Across the Bay.

If you are interested in creating a work group or sponsoring this unique event, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

What We Do

Book Across the Bay is the upper Midwest's most unique winter event, open to skiers and snowshoers of all ages and ability levels. The 10-kilometer course, which is groomed for both classic-style and skate skiing, follows a route not on land, but over the frozen surface of Lake Superior, the world's largest lake. The event is held at night, and the course is lit by the stars above and up to 1,000 candles in ice luminaries that line the entire route.