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John Munger: Executive Director, the Loppet Foundation

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Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting on the bench with Omar Ansari, founder of Surly Brewing. You can listen to our Sauna Talk Episode here. Today on the bench, I have the pleasure of visiting with another enterprising icon in the Twin Cities. Today we welcome John Munger, Executive Director, Loppet Foundation.

John and Omar have a few similarities

Both John and Omar know each other from way back. Surly was an early sponsor of the Loppet Foundation. That relationship is still strong today. Their beginnings: John with the Loppet and Omar with Surly, each started as a kernel seed of an idea. And each have each grown into something long lasting and remarkable.

Both have have swam upstream against established rules and structure, both political and policy, with fierce dedication to their clear visions and missions. As you’ll hear in this episode, John notes that “real change in the world is stuff that lasts.” In the case of Surly Brewing, we have Surlyville, a substantially cool and beautiful brewery destination complex. In the case of Loppet Foundation, we have the Trailhead, a substantially cool and beautiful recreation destination complex.

Each of these beautiful buildings, and the smiles created within, are “instagram worthy” Both buildings appearing in tourist brochures and social media feeds for people visiting the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Neither of these Twin City iconic structures and organizations would exist without Omar and John.

What is the Loppet Foundation?

Founded in 2002, The Loppet Foundation It is a non profit, which is dedicated towards doing something good for the community.

The foundation undertakes a variety of things including trails & facilities management, large-scale public events, youth and adult recreational programming, and competitive training clubs. At the center of all of these ‘tentacles’ is their mission, which is to create a shared passion for year-round outdoor adventure in the Minneapolis area, with a focus on underserved youth and families.

The Loppet Foundation offers year-round programs for kids adults and everyone in between. From Loppet Run Club to our in-school Minne-Loppet program. The foundation works to get folks from all walks of life outside and active no matter the weather.

Luminary Loppet, Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Luminary has grown tremendously. As you will hear in the interview, the first luminary had about 150 people in 2006 and this past Luminary we had over 10,000 people in attendance.

The Trailhead project (includes building and surround trail improvements) is about a $10 million project in total. The building is completed and has quickly become a signature, statement piece for Minneapolis. 612 Sauna Society’s wood fired mobile sauna has been parked in the shadows o the trailhead all winter long, and now into Spring. The sauna residency has complemented the offerings of the Trailhead. Guests have been able to enjoy sauna after a ski, surrounding old growth trees and well groomed trails, in a “this is so awesome, it’s got to be against some kind of rule” kind of way.

The Trailhead in Winter. Wirth Park, Minneapolis, MN USA

Some quotes from John Munger

“Real change in the world is stuff that lasts.”

“It doesn’t always have to be fun in order to be meaningful.”

“The secret sauce to getting most everything done in the world is perseverance.”

“People want to be involved and we are giving them this opportunity.”

“Our volunteers do more work than Hercules. They do amazing work.”

“You could do your sauna along in the woods.. but what makes it special is that you’re doing it together. There is something special about doing it together.”

“I enjoy sauna. It has been something that is culturally part of everything that we do.” If you are an outdoor person, if you are a skier, if you are of Scandinavian roots… sauna is part of all that.”

“When I reflect upon my work, when I do my work well, it is because I say yes.”

“There is a tendency to think of the reasons why not to do something. I tend to approach it from the opposite point of view. Let’s try and find reasons to do this, because it’s going to elevate everyone, and the sauna has certainly done that.”

Glenn and John Munger between sauna rounds

We can’t do that because of liability. Hogwash!

Check out John’s story about Jesse Diggens, a contributor to help make the World Cup a reality for Minneapolis, USA. 2001 was the last World Cup in the US. And in 2020 it will be under the wing of the Loppet Foundation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

John Munger, Loppet Foundation, and Glenn cooling down between sauna rounds outside the 612 Sauna Society mobile sauna, outside the Trailhead, Wirth Park, Minneapolis, MN

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