Polar Roll kicks off January 15

North Central UP

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – In this year’s Polar Roll, participants will take pictures of themselves at checkpoints and use a GPS to prove their participation on their own time.

Participants can choose from five categories and travel by snowshoe or fat bike. The five different categories follow routes of varying distance and difficulty across Marquette County. Todd Poquette, director of adventure, says this year the Polar Roll will not be a mass start because of COVID-19.

“We’ve been in conversation with local leaders and the health department and we have an adapted EX format so people have between January 15 and to March 7 to register and they’ll receive a digital passport that has everything that they need to know,” said Poquette.

Participants can complete their route on any day between January 15 until March 15. 906 Adventure Team is hosting the event, $15 from each registration fee will go back to the trail systems. The rest of the registration fee will cover event costs and fund the 906 Adventure Team’s programs.

“The income from the event supports adventure bike club in Marquette county, Delta county and Gogebic County,” said Poquette. “Annually we work with about 500 kids.”

No support from volunteers will be available due to the individual format of the race. Most of the trails are in or near the city limits of Marquette, Ishpeming or Negaunee, however, so participants will never be too far from help or cell phone service if an emergency does occur.

“We’ve been telling people for six years to follow a self-supported ethos meaning you’re responsible for you, you’re on your own, you’re out there alone there’s nobody out there to save you, be prepared,” said Poquette.

Routes will feature trails on the Noquemanon Trail Network and the RAMBA trail system.

“So we’ve got the short race which is 15 miles that’ll happen up on the west end along with the snowshoe events and then the longer event will happen in Marquette and that’s about 30 miles,” said Poquette. “We had somebody preride it the other day and they said they think it highlights the best of Marquette.”

One of the five categories involves completing all of the other four routes for a total of over 95 miles on snowshoe and fat bike combined. Routes are available for only snowshoeing, only fat biking or a combination of both.

“In order to navigate the course you have to use a GPS, we give you a GPX file, you put it on your computer, the computer takes you around the course,” said Poquette. “Once you’ve done that you can send us a link to your route because you have to upload it online and then we just verify that you did it with some checkpoint selfies.”

The event isn’t a race against each other, Poquette says the only competition is yourself. Participants who complete their route in full will receive a printed full-color event book, a hat and maybe some stickers. The event book contains the rules, events, winter trail etiquette, sponsors, trail organization spotlights, checkpoints and more.

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