MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – One weekend a year for the last 30 years, downtown Marquette has transformed into a hub of excitement. The UP200 sled dog race covers 238 miles between Marquette and Grand Marais. On Friday, February 14, 2020 mushers, dogs, and crowds of people will gather to witness the start of something incredible.

This race is an Iditarod qualifier. Teams who make the cut then have just over three weeks before taking on the wilds of Alaska.

The course is an out and back route which will test mushers and their dogs against all kinds of terrain. If you’re looking for the best places to watch from.

The exact mileage is calculated by trail crews. Storms in November did a lot of damage so it’s taken longer to clear and groom trails and to finalize the safest route.  The trails are in good condition and they will be slightly shorter than last year. 

Race organizers take great care to make sure this is a safe event for the dogs and mushers. Veterinarians examine the dogs before the race and at checkpoints throughout. A total rest time of 16 hours is required, and the mushers decide how much rest time they will use at each checkpoint. 

A bit of a warning when it comes to animals. If you have pets, race organizers are asking you to leave them at home. They don’t want any incidents between race dogs and your pets.

Representatives from Pure Michigan will be in attendance. They created a visitors guide for the event.

This isn’t just one race. It’s three different events through the weekend: The UP 200, The Midnight Run, and The Jack Pine 30

Schedule of Events:

5:15pm – 6:15pm  Dog-Tail Gate gathering – downtown Marquette between 4th and 6th Streets.  View dog trucks, dogs and mushers as they prepare to race.  Visit the NMU Alumni tent (merchandise available) and downtown shops.  Race track must be cleared by 6:15 PM and please, do not bring pets downtown.

6:00pm – late evening  Marquette Welcome Center Viewing Party – Great place to view the teams going by! Restrooms, cookies, pizza, hot coffee, and more! At the MDOT Welcome Center on M-28 east of downtown.

6:30 pm – Opening Ceremony for the 30th running of the UP200 and Midnight Run

7:00 pm – UP200 START at Washington and Fourth Street.

8:30 pm – Midnight Run START – the Midnight Run starts approximately 30 minutes after the last UP200 musher has left the chute, but not before 8:30 pm.

Midnight Run mushers will find themselves running to a different finish line.  Ojibwa Casino east of Marquette is graciously hosting the Midnight Run finish this year.   

The full schedule can be found here.