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Trail in great shape

January 22, 2008
By BILL HARRIS, Journal Sports Writer
MARQUETTE — This week’s Subaru Noquemanon Ski Marathon, as always, takes place on the Noquemanon Trail Network that runs from the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming through the scenic woods to its finish at the Superior Dome in Marquette.

In the 10 years that the Noquemanon has been run in the Marquette area, there have been some major strides in improving what has become one of the biggest winter events in the Upper Peninsula.

“In the very first year we had a very loosely put together trail, and it had very little work done on it, it was very rugged,” race director Jon Mommaerts said. “Fortunately we had a tremendous amount of snow, so no one really realized just how rugged the trail was.

“Since then, we’ve put a significant amount of time, energy and money into getting and keeping the trail smoother, and it’s been more skiable since then.”

The Noquemanon now has employees prepare for and work during the race, though volunteer help still gives the event a huge helping hand.

“We’ve been able to hire staff to work the race, whereas in the first two years or so all the work was done completely by volunteers,” Mommaerts said. “They put in a ridiculous amount of time that no working person should have to do again. Now we’ve got more professional staff, we’ve improved the trail, and have gotten a name for ourselves spread out across the country as being a premier event.”

The Noquemanon Trail Network team is in charge of preparing the trail for Saturday, using groomers and other equipment to make the route the best it can be.

In previous years, finishing at the Superior Dome has been a bit of a problem for race coordinators. Some years there wasn’t enough snow, or snow had to be trucked into the finish area. Having too little snow isn’t a problem this year.

According to the Noquemanon Trail report, the area’s last storm  — which dumped around 6 inches of snow near Marquette  — improved the trail and added to the base that had already been established. Prior to the new snow, groomers had already been working at the Granite Point area and had rolled the trail in Marquette all the way to the dome. The new snow is in the process of being groomed and, according to first-year race administrator Greg Weier, conditions look good.

“The trails have been getting groomed, and the reports look good,” Weier said. “The dome finish is a go.”



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