U.P. 200 mushers checking in for race weekend

The start of the U.P. 200 sled dog race is now only a day away. The mushers are getting ready for a good night of sleep after registering at the YMCA of Marquette County.

The return of fresh snow delayed the arrival of quite a few mushers and their dog teams. The Two Harbors, Minnesota musher who finished fourth in last year’s U.P. 200 has family in Dickinson County. He says the trip to Marquette didn’t give him much trouble.

“There’s about an inch or two of snow; it’s coming down pretty hard,” Troy Groeneveld said. “We’d been on the road since 5:00 this morning coming from northern Minnesota, so a lot of snow (was) blowing around on the road. It always makes it tough traveling with a big truck and trailer full of dogs.”

The U.P. 200 has 13 entries this year. Twenty–one teams will compete in the Jack Pine 30 in Gwinn Saturday morning. The Midnight Run has a full field of 30 teams and some changes this year.

“It’s going to Chatham, and it’s going to rest five and a half hours, and then it’ll be coming in, we figure some of the first teams around 9:00 a.m. (Saturday) in the Lower Harbor,” U.P. Sled Dog Association president Pat Torreano said. “That’s kind of nice because it ties into the Kiddie Mutt Race, the Rail Jam and all those things that are going to be happening in downtown Marquette.”

The U.P. 200 starts at 7:00 tomorrow night in downtown Marquette, and the Midnight Run begins at 8:00. Organizers are asking spectators to not bring animals to the start, or to any other viewing areas. It’s for the sake of the sled dogs, who will already be excited enough by racing.