The U.P. 200 sled dog race kicked off Thursday night with a banquet at the Holiday Inn in Marquette.
Dog mushers were able to meet each other and enjoy dinner. They were able to get race instructions and go over any rule questions with race judges.
First time U.P. 200 musher Ryan Redington said has always watched the U.P. 200 and has always wanted to participate.
“I wanted to check out the beautiful trails of the U.P.,” Redington said, who has a 12 dog sled team.
Mushers also found out their bib numbers for both the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run. Their bib numbers show the mushers where they are in the race line up. The numbers were chosen randomly before the banquet, and then assigned to each musher.
“Obviously there’s advantages to going out first,” Race Director Ron Hewson said. “But not all mushers like to do that. They’d rather maybe not be last, but be somewhere in the middle so they don’t have to do too much passing if they’re a fast team.”
Redington said race placement does not change his strategy, but he does pay attention to his competitor’s placement. “I hope to run a smart race and get near the front of the pack,” he said.
65 teams are racing in the U.P. 200, Midnight Run, and Jack Pine 30.
The U.P. 200 starts Friday at 6:50 p.m. in downtown Marquette. Midnight Run teams will go off fifteen minutes after the last U.P. 200 team has left. The Jack Pine 30 starts at 9:30 a.m. in Gwinn.