Students key to U.P. 200 events success

Ellen Holmes

In a community event as large as the U.P. 200, many NMU organizations, students and community members find themselves volunteering for the 22nd annual race.

The U.P. 200 will being at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 in downtown Marquette and continue to Grand Marais.

This year’s U.P. 200 will be made up of 21 mushing teams, as well as 17 teams in the JackPine 30 and 26 teams in the Midnight run.

While the U.P. 200 will begin at 6:50 p.m., the Midnight Run will start at 9:00 p.m. both on Friday, Feb. 15, in front of the Mining Journal in downtown Marquette. The JackPine 30 will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Larry’s Family Foods in Gwinn.

Spectators will be able to hear from speakers at the opening ceremony including Mayor DePetro, local politicians, and major sponsors of the race before the start of the Midnight Run.

One team racing in the JackPine 30 will be lead by musher Kaci Murringer, an NMU senior majoring in entrepreneurship.

“I have been running sled dogs for 15 years and this year will be my fourth JackPine 30,” Murringer said. “I love being involved with the sport of dog sledding and watching the dogs do what they love.”

After taking seventh in last year’s JackPine 30, Murringer is looking forward to racing as well as volunteering at the Harvey station of the U.P. 200 with friend Kaylee Place.

Place, Harvey coordinator and board member of the Upper Peninsula Dog Sled Association (UPDSA), as well as NMU 2012 alumni, is another member of the community that takes pride in the upcoming race.

“I love the community engagement,” Place said. “Everyone bands together for an awesome event and brings new people into the area for one of the biggest events for the U.P.”

Place also said how much volunteering is necessary to make the race a possibility.

“From helping the teams leave Marquette to their span across the race, it’s really a huge community involvement.”

Dr. Carol Steinhaus, Management Professor at NMU said not only does volunteering in the race create an opportunity for her students in Event Management to gain hands on experience, but also gives them an upper hand on future employment.

“One man in my class that was a volunteer for the race ended up being offered a position with a construction management company,” Steinhaus said. “ After watching his effort being put into the event, the owner of the company handed the volunteer a business card telling him to inquire if he was interested in a job.”

According to volunteer coordinator for the U.P. 200, Anna Sanford, the race couldn’t happen without the help of the NMU volunteers.

“The volunteers come out and help the UPSDA,” Sanford said. “Even traveling to Munising and Grand Marais, its great.”

One company that also provided great help was Lowes.

“Lowes was a major contributor to the race by donating materials and putting its employees to work on a new dog box trailer for tired or injured dogs to be transported from the trail to the next checkpoint,” said Pat Torreano, president of the UPSDA.

Torreano also urges spectators to leave pets at home to ensure the safety of the dogs in the race as well as those in the crowd.

Those interested in volunteering on Friday, Feb. 15 in Marquette or Sunday, Feb. 17 at road crossings in Harvey, contact Anna Sanford at 906-942-7850 or Kaylee Place at 906-250-6134.  For more details on the U.P. 200 visit