MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Northern Michigan University and the UP200 Sled Dog Race announced Tuesday that NMU will become a naming sponsor of the race. Beginning in 2023, the event will be known as ‘UP200 – Powered by NMU’. NMU Chief Marketing Officer Derek Hall says the partnership will continue to strengthen the student, faculty, and staff involvement in helping to put on the race each year.

“It’s going to be a great relationship. You know for decades the race has relied on volunteers from the university and we’re going to formalize that relationship,” Hall said. “We have students from our Pre-Vet Club helping with the dog checks. Our criminal justice students are down here helping with crowd control. Outdoor Rec, they’re out camping in the snow handling the road crossing. There’s a lot of students really involved in this race and it’s been that way for a long time, and we’re hoping to take advantage of that and formalize that relationship.”

In addition to opportunities for NMU students, faculty, and staff to get involved, the partnership aims to grow the branding and marketing efforts for the event beyond the Marquette community.

“Not many institutions can say they are partnering at this level with this type of community event,” said Darlene Walch, President of the U.P. Sled Dog Association. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. If we get more students involved and capture their experiences, it creates a unique signature for Northern.”

According to Walch, between 800 to 900 volunteers are needed to facilitate the UP200, Jack Pine 30, and Midnight Run, many of which are typically NMU student organizations and service-learning classes. NMU hopes to continue growing these opportunities for students to take part in and learn in a unique environment. Events like the UP200 that aren’t available in many places presents a way for the university to stand out when marketing the NMU experience to prospective students.

“A big reason for us is we want to tell the story to future NMU students. If you come to Northern, this is what we do on a February weekend. We help pull off this great community event. It’s so unique, what other university can say ‘this is what we do’ and ‘this is how we learn’? This is our hands-on opportunity for our students and that’s why we are partnering with and powering the UP200.”

WJMN Local 3 will have live coverage Friday night during our entire 6 p.m. hour from the starting line of the UP200. We’ll be sharing stories of the racers, dogs, volunteers, and all the other people that make the event possible.