The UP200 dog sled race is an exciting event in Northern Michigan. Every year, on the third Friday in February, regardless of the temperature, thousands of locals and tourists alike line the streets in historic downtown Marquette, Michigan for the start of this exhilarating race.
Sled dog race fans would not miss the opportunity to cheer on the mushers and teams competing in the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association's increasingly popular Sled Dog Race.
The 12-dog, 240-plus mile race extends from Marquette to Grand Maris and back.
While the UP200 is the main event, two companion races also draw a good share of spectators, the 8-dog, 90-mile Midnight Run, and 6-dog, 30-mile Jack Pine 30 Sled Dog Races. Entrants for the three races typically hail from various national as well as international regions, and many walks of life.
Most dogs in the event are classified as husky mix or Alaskan husky, which is not an AKC breed. The appearance of the dogs is varied, as they are a mix of up to several breeds. Siberian Huskies, thought of by some as the classic sled dog, are often among the entrants. Alaskan Malamutes and even snow-white Samoyeds have run in the Jack Pine 30 and Midnight Run races throughout the years.
Whatever the breed, a sled dog is one of high energy that likes to run and pull. Besides plenty of exercise, sled dog mushers are known for providing their dogs with exceptional care and nutrition.
Race veterinarians carefully screen the dogs prior to and during the races.
The Inaugural UP200 was held under perfect snow-stormy skies in February 1990. Thanks to visionary leaders and hundreds of capable volunteers, the race has been run each and every year since.
The downtown start, which involves a great deal of preparation, has been described as nothing short of glorious. The preparation is not as simple as one might think in this northern city: on race day, snow which has been plowed, moved aside, and hauled away earlier in the winter is hauled back and packed down on downtown streets to create a trail on which sled dog teams can depart safely.
As teams leave in two-minute intervals, widespread whooping, cheering and gloves and mittens thumping together resound.
Meet author Jackie Winkowski who writes touching stories about sled dogs and their adventures. All of her stories are based on actual events and real dogs. Her books are certain to inspire and delight children of all ages.
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