Marquette, MI – February 14, 2020 – The community gathered in the streets of Downtown Marquette tonight to witness 30 years of tradition in the form of strength, agility, and determination. 18 Mushers and 376 dogs lined up this evening to set out on a 238 mile journey across to Grand Marais and back for the 2020 UP200. On the corner of 4th and Washington, the Opening Ceremony for both the UP200 and Midnight Run drew a crowd that only continued to grow as the night went on.
Around 6:30pm returning emcee’s Walt Lindala and Frida Waara took the mic to welcome spectators and racers alike to the 30th Annual UP200. The race across the Upper Peninsula is the area’s only mid-distance 12-dog Iditarod Qualifier. Following the welcomes and thank yous directed at event sponsors, Walt and Frida shared facts about this year’s UP200 and the chorus sang both the Canadian and American National Anthems.
The ceremony also included several statements from local and state figure heads. Some speakers included State Representative Sara Cambensy, Congressman Jack Bergman, and Northern Michigan University President Fritz Erickson. Senator Ed McBroom and Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill also caught some mic time. Darlene Walsh and Ross Anthony of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association spoke about what it is like to put on this event each year and why they do it!
Around 7:00pm the first racer, Josh McNeal, slide up to the starting line. Josh and his dogs traveled from Kasilof, Alaska to participate in the weekend long race. Up second was returning participant and life long musher, Ryan Redington of Skagway, Alaska. The UP200 competition is full of mushers with years of experience making this event one of the top races in the Midwest. Laura Neese of McMillian and Jaye Foucher from Mohawk are this year’s only UP based mushers with Brian Kandler coming up from Mason in the Lower Peninsula with his 12-dog team. With 18 teams in total, racers also traveled from Minnesota, Quebec, Wisconsin, New Brunswick, and Ontario to attend the 2020 UP200.
Around 8:30pm 20 mushers began the second race of the night, headed out on the 82 mile trek for the Midnight Run. The race will take the dogs and their mushers to Chatham and back, breaking for a mandatory 5.5 hour rest period at the Michigan State University Experimental Farm check point. To catch the Midnight Run teams returning, be at the Ojibwa Casino on M28 around 8:30am Saturday.
The third race of the weekend will begin around 10am tomorrow at First Baptist Church in Gwinn. The Jack Pine 30 is a 6 dog, 26 mile race around Marquette County.
Don’t forget you can track the UP200 teams online to help you plan when to be at the finish line in Mattson Lower Harbor on Sunday morning.
For more information about all three races, visit the official UP200 website.