MARQUETTE - The Junior Noque attracted new and veteran skiers - from ages 2 to 19 years - to the seventh annual race Friday at the Forestville Trail Head of the Noquemanon Trail Network.
Families and friends braved the cold as they cheered on the more than 100 young racers, shouting their names as the sun peeked in and out of the clouds.
Junior Noque Director Debby Muskovitch said skiers for the race came from various locations and many came with their families for today's Noquemanon Ski Marathon, which gives the children an opportunity to be part of the race weekend.
Inset above, Junior Noque racer Greta Rickauer, 8, leaves the start line during the 3-kilometer freestyle race Friday at the Forestville Trailhead. Above, racers Morgan Halley-Gluesing, 8, left, prepares for the 3-kilometer classic race. (Journal photos by Julia Woehrer)
Racers wore bibs and were equipped with racing chips to track their time, just like their older counterparts racing in today's races.
Some skiers came out in teams like the Marquette Senior High School Ski Club, while others raced individually and just for fun.
Even though the temperatures were in the teens, the snow did not fall this year as it did in 2009.
"Last year the Junior Noque was during a raging snowstorm ... they're hearty souls that do this sport," Muskovitch said.
The event received support from donations and from about 40 local volunteers including Kohl's volunteers, the Marquette County Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council and the Superiorland Ski Club, Muskovitch said.
"We've got a stellar group of volunteers this year," she said. "I think its the highest (number) ever."
Volunteers are important for races that involve young children, she said, because some children may not be aware of how a race works.
"You have kids doing this for the first time; we need to really help them," Muskovitch said.
The late afternoon races included a 5-kilometer freestyle race for skiers 12 to 19 years old, a 3-kilometer freestyle loop race for skiers 8 to 11, a 3-kilometer classic loop race for skiers 8 to 11 and a 1-kilometer classic loop race for skiers 7 and younger.
Following the race, the youngsters and their parents warmed up inside the pole barn building at the trailhead to enjoy pizza, cookies and hot cocoa.
"We feed them because most of the kids are running right from school to go to their race," Muskovitch said.
An awards ceremony was held after each race, where medals were given to the top three overall racers and to the top finishers in each age group for boys and girls. In addition, all participants received a blue ribbon and a chocolate bar shaped like the Upper Peninsula.