Preparations underway for UP200 sled dog races

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Not only has the snow affected preparation for the UP200 this year, but there are also changes to some routes. In previous years, the Jack Pine 30 route was dangerously close to M-553 and railroad tracks. This year, more snowmobile trails are being utilized to avoid this.

"I think the changes will be positive. The Jack Pine 30 will definitely be positive, because we had some concerns these last few years of teams being too close to the main highway," says Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association (UPSDA) President, Darlene Walch.

In past years, racers faced the problem of not enough snow on the trails. However, that's not the case this year.

"When we had warm weather, we were worried about where were we going to get enough snow to put snow down on the trail. This year, we do not have that worry so that has been a relief," says Walch.

Walch adds that while there may be enough snow to cover the trails, the snow has caused other problems during trail preparation.

"So many trees and small branches didn't necessarily ‘break off’, but they bent down and it was pretty much a mess. But the trail crew had started going through and clearing it out. We have an awesome trail crew," says Walch.

Police are reminding people to be safe while enjoying the races this weekend.

“Keep in mind that with the recent snow and the amount of snow that we’ve been getting, our Department of Public Works has done a very good job of maintaining the roads and keeping them clear, however, they are snow-covered and slippery. With the amount of people that will be walking and enjoying the downtown area this weekend, we ask that motorists keep them in mind,” says Marquette Police Department Captain, Mike Laurila.

Despite the obstacles with the weather, the UPSDA says they are expecting a great turnout, with around 40 mushers registered across all races.

More information on the UP200 can be found on their website, in the related links section of this story.

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