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President of the UP200 speaks out about cancelation

The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association voting to cancel the event at their board meeting Wednesday night.
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 10:57 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The UP200, Midnight Run and Jack Pine 300 have all been cancelled.

The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association voting to cancel the event at their board meeting Wednesday night.

“The more we looked at it, the more we realized that it just didn’t make sense to move forward with 2021 and the sooner we could make a decision the better off it would be for everyone.," said Darlene Walch, President of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association. "It was very difficult. No one wanted to go that route. We all wish we could change things.”

Despite the now cancelled races being four months away, Walch says the board was concerned about getting trail permits and staffing the event in a safe way.

Also adding that for an event that brings people from all over North America to the Upper Peninsula, a decision needed to be made sooner rather than later.

“People are looking for some kind of certainty and to know how to make their plans," said Walch. "We’ve been in touch with mushers. They are unsure how to train and what to train for.”

According to the U.P. Sled Dog Association, the cancellation of the event also means the loss of nearly $2 million to the local economy.

“We do recognize the economic impact of it, but we put safety first and felt that if it did not go as what we know to be the U.P. 200, Midnight Run, it would not be the event that we have all come to know,” said Walch.

As for the future of the event, the plan is the bring it back in full for 2022.

“We plan to take this year regrouping for 2022," Walch said. "The board decided last night that this is not a year for us to take off. We will be working on plans within the organization so that we are prepared for 2022.”

Walch says the mushers and volunteers involved in the event that she has talked to have had agreed with the decision.

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