MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — The UP Sled Dog Association uses a lot of local resources to organize everything needed surrounding the UP200.
This event brings the public and visitors together for the race and the city does their best to prepare.
“The sled dog race, every year, it’s a wonderful weekend for the city. I think this weekend might be a little bit busier because there are other activities going on at the same time, but as a community we welcome the mushers, we welcome visitors, spectators. The venue, starting in downtown Marquette, I think makes it somewhat unique and it’s just a great, wonderful, good time for everybody,” said Mike Angeli, Marquette City Manager.
“We do our best to try to help coordinate events so they don’t necessarily compete with each other, but the truth is that there are a number of events out there, so sometimes it’s necessary for them to overlap. The community generally comes together to deal with it, whether it be the city and our management of some of the trails or roads or anything that we have to be involved in. It goes so far, I’m sure that the hoteliers and other people that provide lodging have to do some long term planning as well.”
The most important feature of the race surrounds the start. Snow is laid out for the start down Washington Street from Fourth Street all the way to Lakeshore Boulevard. A contractor takes care of the trail, but the city is in charge of the surrounding area.
“Now to try to help out, we maintain the bike paths and the sidewalks on various different routes through town and the DDA does a lot of it in the downtown area and we just kind of supplement leading up to that, but when it comes closer to the last couple of weeks leading up to the dog sled race, we stop maintaining the bike path along the route, so we allow the snow to kind of build-up and we come in and groom it and they don’t usually have to haul in snow for the bike path itself,” said Scott Cambensy, Director, City of Marquette Public Works.
The city of Marquette was in control of laying snow for the trail, but that changed in the mid-2000’s.
“Well, it used to be a complete city project as far as placement with snow and all of that. It’s probably been since somewhere around 2005 that it’s been contracted out, so we are not actually hauling the snow or removing the snow for the track and we just come through and do our clean up leading up to it, so it’s easy for people to move around down there and get to a position where they can actually see the track. That’s still probably one of the downtown’s biggest highlights of the year is the start to the race. They have added a mountain biking race, the Polar Roll, which also starts down there the next morning after the sled dogs take off,” said Cambensy.
Northern Michigan University helped to keep spectators warm.
“NMU hosts a warming tent at the start line, so we have a large tent, heaters, hot chocolate, cookies, it’s free to everyone. We invite everyone to come in and warm-up in between the starts. It’s an exciting weekend,” said Derek Hall, Chief Marketing Officer, Northern Michigan University.