UPSDA seeking new blood, ideas, energy

Ross anthony

It goes without saying that the Upper Peninsula is a special place. From the variety and beauty of summer activities right through the winter, it’s hard to find a weekend without a special and unique event.

This past weekend was no different. For 29 years now, the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run has entertained spectators from Marquette to Escanaba to Grand Marais, Gwinn and Munising.

The addition of the Jack Pine 30 to the weekend’s event 16 years ago expanded opportunities for mushers and spectators to enjoy the sport of sled dog racing.

With the recent National exposure of the event through partnerships with Pure Michigan and other National organizations, the U.P. 200, Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 have grown from the Upper Peninsula’s premier sled dog event to one of North America’s premier winter events attracting top mid–distance mushers in North America and spectators from all over the United States.  

Each year, thousands of volunteers come together to create an event unlike any other in the U.S. As appreciated as those volunteers are, organizing the event takes a full year of planning.

For most in our communities, the magic of the U.P. 200, Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 weekend mean a few hours at a road crossing, the roar of the crowd on West Washington Street, or the serenity and great feeling of community and an unmatched slice of pie in Grand Marais.

Although each organizer has his or her own motivation for their participation, the overwhelming theme is a love of the event and community that it creates. Whether it be providing an opportunity for the mushers to run our wilderness or providing our community members an opportunity to gather and escape their daily grind, the event organizers dedicate endless hours to make it all possible. With the increased exposure and continued improvement, the task of creating this event grows each year as the core of organizers continues to shrink. Although they have managed to continue to host a successful event when other events have folded, it becomes increasingly difficult with fewer organizers. Each year we feel the love. We know what this event means to our community, but it comes at a price.  

The board of directors is seeking new members and potential Board members who also have a special love for this unique event. To continue to be successful in the future, new enthusiastic members are needed to help support the existing board and help make plans for the future with a vision of creating an even better event.

If you are someone who has the interest in the event and some time to dedicate we encourage you to contact us at the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association.

The current group of organizers are ready and willing to continue their work on the Board, but they need an infusion of new enthusiastic members to move forward. This event has become more than just mushing.

Some of our current board members are past mushers, but most are community members with skills outside the sled dog realm. It has become much more than a race, and providing these opportunities take skills outside the mushing community. We are a skilled community with a love for its uniqueness, variety is at our core. We need your skills. Please consider getting involved on a different level. Be a part of something bigger.

This event needs more new blood and ideas. You could be the one that helps continue its growth and allows us to highlight who we are. Because of the dedication of the current board the event will continue, but we are not a community that just survives.

We thrive in a way that other parts of the U.S. can’t fathom and you can play a role in showcasing that. I understand that time is at a premium in our busy world, but I also understand that there are those out there who love this event as much as we do. Maybe that someone is you?

If you are interested in helping please message a board member via email or Facebook. Contact information is listed in the About tab/Board of Directors at www.up200.org.

Editors note: Ross Anthony is a board member of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association and the Start Finish coordinator for the U.P. 200.