UP 200 starting gate placed in downtown Marquette over weekend

North Central UP

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – The UP 200, Midnight Run, and Jack Pine 30 would have been held this past weekend, but were canceled due to the pandemic.

Sled dog races are a part of the many winter traditions in the Upper Peninsula. With the 32nd annual UP 200 postponed until 2022, the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association (UPSDA) placed the race’s starting gate at the Marquette Commons this past weekend.

“We decided to do that so that people wouldn’t forget that we normally would’ve had a race this last weekend. So we wanted to keep it on people’s radar and let everyone know that we’re still out here. We’re still celebrating winter, we just weren’t able to invite the mushers and their teams, and all of our volunteers and everybody else who normally attends and participates,” said Darlene Walch, the president of UPSDA.

Even with COVID restrictions, Walch said the large community event wouldn’t have been possible.

“Probably the easiest way to keep the mushers safe while they’re on the trail. But we have checkpoints to worry about, all the way to Marquette through Wetmore, Chatham, Grand Marais, Gwinn. We just didn’t feel we could do that,” said Walch.

The U.P. Sled Dog Association is looking forward to bringing back the races next year. The dates are already set for February 17 through February 21 of 2022.

“We fully expect that the UP 200, the Midnight Run, and the Jack Pine 30 will be back as normal next February,” said Walch.

The association is looking for volunteers for the months leading up to the races. To learn more on how to volunteer, click here.

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