P.O. Box 15, Marquette, MI 49855
This time we came to Marquette to see something I’d never seen before, a two-hundred mile dogsled race called the U.P. 200. It’s an Iditarod qualifier that brings mushers and their teams in from all over the Midwest. The race actually starts off right in downtown Marquette. The morning of the race, they bring in heavy equipment, dump tons of snow and actually build a dogsled trail right through the middle of the city. This takes a lot of time and energy, but when you see the start of the race, it’s extremely cool.
The morning of the race we got to experience what’s called the vet check. This is where every single dog is thoroughly examined by a veterinarian to make sure they’re healthy and ready to run. I have to be honest; I had my reservations about how dogs were treated in this sport until I saw how happy and healthy they all were. The relationship the dogs have with their owners is amazing. These dogs love two things: they love their owners and they love to run.
Putting on a race this size takes a ton of people who are dedicated to the sport. Students from Northern Michigan University even volunteer their time to help make the race happen. It’s a total town effort that brings everyone together for fun and a ton of community spirit.
We had some time to kill before the race started, so we ran over to the NMU campus to see the Superior Dome. It’s their stadium and field house, and it’s one of the largest wooden dome structures in the world. Just walking into the dome is a real experience, but we got to do something really cool. We got to take the catwalk all the way to the top. It’s amazing that something this mammoth can be built entirely out of wood.
When it gets close to the start of the race, downtown Marquette really comes alive. More than seven thousand people line the streets to cheer on the mushers and their canine companions. They say the older you get, the more often you should do something for the very first time. If you’ve never experienced The U.P. 200, it’s time you did.