MARQUETTE — Downtown Marquette was packed with spectators tonight, as people gathered for the take off of the UP 200 Sled Dog Races.

This traditional race has been gathering attention for nearly 30 years now, with mushers coming to compete from all over the globe. Hundreds of spectators from across the community enjoyed the night as they watched the dogs take off on a 230 mile trek.

The opening ceremony started at 6:30pm and there was plenty to do to keep everyone entertained until the races began at 7pm.

“I am just very excited this year,” said the 2017 UP 200 defending champion, Denis Tremblay, of Quebec. “I’ve come to defend my title because I won last year – this year has very good conditions and I’m very excited about the race – it’s just fun too.”

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