Changes ahead for Noquemanon Ski Marathon’s 20th year

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula Health System Noquemanon Ski Marathon will be celebrating its 20th anniversary Jan. 26-28, and there are a number of course changes that will both improve the skier experience and prepare the race for future growth, according to a press release from organizers.

The 50-kilometer classic and freestyle races will see larger starting waves. The classic race will have multiple waves of 200 skiers and the freestyle waves will vary in size with 100 skiers in the first, 180 in the second, and 180 or more in the third.

To accommodate more skiers in the starting waves the trail width for the first 3K has been increased to 30 feet and will use a portion of Al Quaal’s famed FIS and NCAA race course.

Major course improvement projects have also been completed. On a privately owned tract of land known as the Granite Point Section, a new 3K route made specifically for the Noquemanon, has been added to the 50K marathon course. The new route is wider, has a better surface, and is more skier friendly than the previous route through the area, and it is designed to withstand a high volume of ski racers, the press release states.

In addition, another new section of trail was created for the 24K race, known as the Mead Hills Bypass. After the traditional start at Marquette County Road 510, skiers of the 24K will follow the new bypass route, which has an improved surface over the older section of trail that was used.

The most prominent change of the 2018 Noquemanon is a new finish line. The new finish line will be at the Log Yard, about 4K west of the Superior Dome. This new finish line allows the race organization to eliminate the last 4K section of the course that is typically lowest in snow cover and historically is where most negative course feedback was concentrated.

The entrance into the Log Yard has been widened and flattened to provide a launching point for every finisher.

Busing will be provided from the finish line to the Superior Dome, and all participants will continue to have access to the dome facilities, including access to locker rooms, showers and saunas.

In addition, the Noquemanon Trail Network Forestville System ski trail will be added to the Noquemanon course, which will bring with it new and varied terrain for skiers.

Other course improvements include the 12K race, which will now have a new scenic course over the first 4K, along with more inclusive age group awards.

The race organization feels this year’s course improvements are changes that will not only improve skiers’ experience, but will also allow the UPHS Noquemanon Ski Marathon to manage its growth safely and responsibly.

For more information regarding this year’s marathon, visit www.noquemanon.com.