Dogs get set to dash on dry land in the U.P. 200


To prepare for one of the biggest events in Marquette, the U.P. 200, sled dog racers and their pups warm up without the snow in the Dryland Dash.
Photo courtesy of  UP 200.Org

To prepare for one of the biggest events in Marquette, the U.P. 200, sled dog racers and their pups warm up without the snow in the Dryland Dash. Photo courtesy of UP 200.Org

Ben Garbacz

Before the dogs are harnessed to their sleds in Marquette’s U.P. 200 sled dog race in February, there is much preparation to be had. Leading up to one of the biggest events in downtown Marquette requires year-round training. To prepare, drivers
and sled dogs participate in
a sled dog race before the first snowfall of the year in the U.P. 200
Dryland Dash.

The third annual sled dog race takes place at the Negaunee Township Hall at 10 a.m. on Oct. 13 and 14. Race Chairman of the U.P. 200 Dryland Dash Tim Trowbridge said this race
will be a tune up and the
dogs will get faster as the season goes on.

“This is a way of keeping
people’s interest in sled dog racing for more than just one time of the year,” Trowbridge said. “Training, veterinary care and all kinds of things go into
keeping dogs.”

The race is co-sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association and the Wisconsin Trailblazers Sled Dog Club,
and is much shorter compared to the race in February. It consists of two trails, distancing 1 and 2.25 miles. The sled dog teams are smaller compared to the
U.P. 200 and weather conditions are milder. This not only increases the speed of the race but provides viewers a bit more comfort in the warmer October elements.

There is also an opportunity for dogs and their owners to deepen their bonds together during this event. The dash features classes for the teams and an event known as the “Fun Run” at 2 p.m
on Saturday. Attendees with
little or no experience in sled dog
racing have the opportunity to take their own dog on a one day, one mile, one dog adventure. Dogs and their owners are
connected by a bikejor, an antenna-like leach mounted on a bike.

“For thousands of years, dogs and people have been working together and playing together
in all kinds of areas and
scenarios,” Trowbridge said. “They might be hunting or
service dogs. Just play fetch with them, you might run them in
a sled dog race. The end result of working with them is a
much closer relationship. The phrase ‘the dog being a man’s best friend’ means something. It’s not for nothing.”

Times will be combined over the two days to reward the
winners with a $2,000 prize. The Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) will receive
a portion of the entry fees
from the U.P. 200 Dryland Dash and Fun Run.