The U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race is quickly approaching and on Friday, Feb. 17, Washington Street in downtown Marquette will be packed with dogs, mushers and people to cheer on the teams.
Volunteer work is a big part of what makes the U.P. 200 possible, and there are still spots open for people looking to volunteer. Students can see what the races are all about firsthand and have some fun while helping the community.
Senior hospitality major Stephanie Hahn is one of the volunteer coordinators and said she is looking forward to the race.
“I know many college students who get really excited to go downtown, stand in the cold and watch the start of the race,” Hahn said. “It’s a great chance for us students to get involved with the Marquette community.”
The first U.P. 200 was in February 1990 and took two years to plan. Now teams from all over the U.S. and Canada come every year to compete.
The U.P. 200 is not the only race offered on Feb. 17. Approximately half an hour after the last U.P. 200 team leaves, the Midnight Run will begin. The Midnight Run is a short race from Marquette to Munising, Mich. and the teams will return to Marquette early on the Feb. 18.
The JackPine 30 is a 30-mile sprint race from Gwinn, Mich. to Marquette and will take place on the morning of Feb. 18 with the teams leaving Gwinn at 9:30 a.m. and arriving in Marquette in the early afternoon.
“I first got involved with the U.P. 200 when I volunteered with PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America),” Hahn said. “Then I took a class with Dr. Steinhaus called Event Management and became in charge of coordinating volunteers for one of the race crossing.”
The U.P. 200 is 240 miles long. Teams travel from Marquette to Grand Marais and then back to Marquette. The trail covers all sorts of terrain, such as creek crossings, hills, valleys and wooded areas.
“I have brought my friends to the Carp River crossings for many years, and it’s a great time,” Hahn said. “We love volunteering for the U.P. 200.”
Head volunteer coordinator Anna Sanford previously taught in the nursing department at NMU.
“I got interested in sled dog racing when my daughter raced in her early 20s,” Sanford said. “She used to be a musher and she ran the U.P. 200 and the Midnight Run. I started volunteering for the races again this November and I am in charge of coordinating all the volunteers.”
The U.P. 200 is a major event for the Upper Peninsula and volunteers are the main source of labor. There are more than 300 volunteers who work and contribute to the U.P. 200, many of whom are students.
“Most of our volunteers are students from NMU,” Sanford said. “The rugby team always helps by setting up on Friday morning and the NMU constructors group is always helping. Without student volunteers, the races wouldn’t be possible. We’re extremely grateful for their participation.”
There are many different types of volunteer jobs that people can sign up for. Sanford said she tries to assign jobs to volunteers by their area of interest.
“Main volunteer jobs are dog handling, crowd control and covering road crossings so that there are no accidents during the races,” Sanford said. “We’re always looking for new volunteers and we still have lots of openings for the races this year. Come out and help. We’ll be sure to have some fun.”
The first team will leave the gate at approximately 7:10 p.m on Friday, Feb. 17. To volunteer for the U.P. 200 or for more information, contact Anna Sanford at [email protected] or call (906) 869-4827. For more information on the races, visit www.up200.org.