MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – This is the first in over 30 years that the UP200 has been canceled due to weather.
Sled dogs thrive off of cold temperatures and a smooth snowpack to run on. Unfortunately, we’ve experienced some weather that messed with these conditions. Above average temperatures, rain, and incoming freezing temperatures have led to the trails’ deteriorating conditions.
“This winter, I mean the whole winter in general has been an unusual one,” said Matt Zika, a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’ve gone through some very mild stretches, we’ve had a few cool downs around Christmas and even the last week of January and the beginning of February, temperatures were very cold and we’ve had some snow mixed in during those times. We know it’s been very mild, temperatures in the 40s during the day, some sunshine and then last night with the half inch of rain that fell over a large part of the U.P.. It has deteriorated the trail conditions, especially from Marquette to the welcome center that made a very challenging and tough decision for them to cancel the race.”
This decision was a difficult one to make for the Sled Dog Association. Ultimately, the decision to cancel was made to insure everyone and every dog’s safety this year.
“We’ve been working with the Sled Dog Association for many years now providing weather support and our mission is the same as theirs,” said Zika. “The whole goal is to make sure that we’re assuring the safety of the volunteers, the public that’s out viewing the race, the mushers, and obviously the dogs as well. There are just too many unknowns with the freeze coming in today as to how the trail is going to pan out the next couple of days.”
Even though the race was canceled, you can still enjoy festivities at this year’s Festival of the Sled Dog. If you plan on attending, make sure you stay warm as colder temperatures and breezy conditions return this Friday.
If you want to know more about the UP200 cancelation or if you want to stay updated on the festivities and schedule changes, you can find their website here and their Facebook page here.