Sunday, February 19, 2012

UP 200 and Midnight Run Sled Dog Races

This is the weekend of the annual UP 200 and Midnight Run Dog Sled Races. The UP200 is one of America’s premier 12-dog, mid-distance sled dog races and draws mushers from around the United States and Canada. The first UP200 was run in February, 1990, after two years of planning by sled dog racing enthusiasts. The race covers approximately 240 miles. Normally the race goes from Marquette to Grand Marais and back. The terrain includes stretches of near-wilderness, creek crossings, hills and valleys, and heavily forested land. Mushers say this is one of their favorite races, not only because of the challenging race, but because of the cheering crowds and warm welcome they receive here in the Upper Peninsula.

The UP200 is an Iditarod qualifying race. Registration is limited to 40 teams, and mushers are required to have finished the Midnight Run or other equivalent sixty (60) mile continuous running race within the past three seasons.

Coinciding with the UP200 is the eight-dog Midnight Run, a race that usually goes from Marquette to Munising, Michigan with a checkpoint in Chatham. The Midnight Run is an eight-dog, 90-mile race. It draws premier teams wanting to test their skill on a technically challenging trail. Registration is also limited to 40 teams.

Because of lack of snow, the routes had to be changed. The Midnight Run race does not go through Grand Marais. It is a shorter run that started and ended in Chatham. This race was won by Joanna Oberg from Ignace Ontario Canada. This was her first time racing the Midnight Run and she was very excited and wanted to do this race for years! She is a native northern Minnesotan now living in northwestern Ontario, she helps her parents operate Agimac River Outfitters, a fishing and hunting camp. She also runs Silent dog sled trips and racing kennel houses with approximately 30 dogs/puppies. Her handler was her long suffering and adventurous mom, and hopefully a few musher friends from Canada. Second Place went to Jerry Trudell from Calumet MI. Third Place went to John Hull from Elton, WI. Here is a picture of the Midnight Run winner.

1st Place $2,300
2nd Place $2,000
3rd Place $1,700
4th Place $1,300
5th Place $900
6th Place $600
7th Place $400
8th Place $325
9th Place $275
10th Place $250
11th Place $225
12th Place $200
13th Place $175
14th Place $150
15th Place $125
Total $10,925

The route for the longer UP 200 was changed this year to go from Chatham to Grand Marais, back to Chatham, and then back to Grand Marais. The map and pictures are below. I did decide on Friday night to open the museum since the checkpoint is right outside in front of the Museum. It took me 2 1/2 hours to unpack all the boxes from the last art show and set up the gift shop. I used my Eden Pure for heat, which didn't quite do enough. I worked the museum from 9:30 in the morning and made it until about 4:30 when the cold finally sent me packing. I must admit that sales were dismal and there really were not that many people out and about. Since the finish is in Grand Marais today, I am hoping that it is better. I'll be open today from 10 until 2.

I was standing next to the checkpoint arch when I took this shot of the museum.

One of the musher trucks, probably driven to Grand Marais by the handler.  The first team arrived in Grand Marais about 8 in the morning.  In total the teams must rest around 13 hours.  They rested in Grand Marais around 7 hours.

Here is a series of shots of the first team that headed back to Chatham around 3:10.  Notice how handlers help to bring the team and keep them settled until the timer releases the team.

In the shot below, the musher sets the brake awaiting the timer to release the team.

2012 UP200 Purse
1st Place $7,200
2nd Place $5,200
3rd Place $4,100
4th Place $2,700
5th Place $2,000
6th Place $1,500
7th Place $1,200
8th Place $975
9th Place $875
10th Place $775
11th Place $575
12th Place $475
13th Place $400
14th Place $325
15th Place $275
Total $28,575

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