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UP200 dog sled race canceled due to weather

Alaskan huskies pull a sled at Nature's Kennel, a dog sledding service near Manistique on Jan. 22.
Michael Livingston
Alaskan huskies pull a sled at Nature's Kennel, a dog sledding service near Manistique on Jan. 22.

Michigan’s longest dog sled race has been canceled for the first time in history.

The Upper Peninsula Dog Sled Association announced today the UP200 - along with its Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 - are all canceled due to poor weather conditions.

Association President Darlene Walch said days of warm weather and rain showers last night melted too much snow on sections of the 220-mile track.

That could cause more of a hazard, should the trails freeze over.

“We estimated early this morning that about 40 percent of our trail all the way from Marquette to Grand Marais will be impacted that way,” Walch said. “There was no way we could remedy the trails at that point.”

Up to 40 teams participate in the race which typically draws hundreds of spectators. The race has never been canceled before now in its 33-year history.

In 2012, the race was altered at the last minute due to weather when temperatures in the UP reached 60 degrees.

Even though the race is canceled, the Festival of the Sled Dog is still happening Friday. Participants can expect to see dogs and enjoy some food, bonfires and other activities.

“This is a first for us and we appreciate the support of the community as wepivot to a festival format,” Walch said in a press release. “This is an incredibly difficult decision to make after the months of work already put in by mushers, volunteers, sponsors and board. Thank you to everyone for your flexibility and understanding. We hope to see you Friday night in downtown Marquette and Saturday in Grand Marais.”

Michael Livingston reports for IPR from the tip-of-the-mitt – mainly covering Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties.
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