NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WJMN) — This weekend Negaunee Township was going to the dogs…. Sled dogs that is.
The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association in partnership with the Wisconsin Trailblazers Sled Dog Club held their 7th annual UP200 Dryland Dash at Negaunee Township Hall this weekend. The Dryland Dash featured over 50 dog sled teams competing in 8 different categories, from simply running with your dog to a scooter race where the dogs pull a musher riding on a wheeled scooter. Volunteer coordinator Meg Holeva says this is a great opportunity to watch these amazing animal athletes compete in somewhat warmer weather.
“Today is year number seven. And this is the biggest year we’ve ever had. It exploded more than we could have ever anticipated. We’ve had more spectators this year, we’ve had more volunteers this year, and we had 110 registered participants, which is record-breaking for us.”
The races featured dogs from a variety of breeds and skill levels. One sled dog team was made up entirely of shelter dogs, and with very little training these adoptable dogs from Crandon Wisconsin seemed born to run. Jay and Angie Schaefer have been competing with their shelter dogs for over 10 years, and although their canine speedsters are not your typical sled dog, despite their breed, their innate passion for running was more than obvious.
“All of my dogs that are racing this week are all residents at the Forest County Humane Society. They are all currently up for adoption. We do this to get them exercise to get them out of the shelter for the day or the weekend. And to just let them have some fun.”
New this year was the addition of junior mushers. First-time racer Elizabeth Beaverson and her dog Ebony had a wonderful time even if they were rookies.
“It’s awesome. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. You get to talk to your dog. Your dog is confident in what it’s doing, it’s just doing its thing, it’s fun.”
The fastest combined times for the two-day event could win the cash purse of $2000, but the majority of the competitors were here for the sheer joy of running. This event was also an opportunity to enlist the help of volunteers for the UP 200 itself. Meg Holeva is always looking for volunteers, as positions are available for a wide variety of jobs.
“We are in need of over 600 volunteers to make that weekend rock. we got indoor we got outdoor, we got ham radio, we got dogs, anything you want, if you want to help us, I got you.”
For more information and how you can volunteer, please visit their website: UP200.org.