Hundreds gather for UP 200

UPDATE — Officials have changed the UP200 race finish to end at Lakananland.

MARQUETTE — The streets of Downtown Marquette were packed with spectators Friday night, all gathered for the take off of the UP 200.

This local tradition has been gathering attention for over 20years now, with mushers coming to compete from all over the globe. Hundreds of spectators from across the community enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather as they watched the dogs take off on a 230-mile trek.

Opening ceremony started at 6:30pm and there was plenty to do to keep everyone entertained.

“This is my third time at the dog sled race,” said spectator, Cody Struck. “They’re real fun. One time, when the sled dogs were racing, I walked up to the track and I just started slashing a bell in the air like this. It was really funny.”

While Cody and the other attendees were enjoying the pre-race festivities, the mushers were strategizing.

“All races for us are just for fun. You’re trying to get out there and do the speeds you train at, and you can’t get too competitive and race faster than you’ve been training,” said Matt Schmidt, a musher. “We have kind of a set speed that we go and we know what the dogs can do and that’s what we’re going to do-have fun, let the dogs have fun and see what happens.”

The Midnight Run took off at 8:30 pm with those races heading towards Chatham. The Jackpine 30 participants will be taking off in Gwinn Saturday morning at 10am. And the mushers competing in the UP 200 will be back in Marquette sometime on Sunday.