MUNISING - A rookie to the Midnight Run crossed the finish line first Saturday morning in Munising to win the 83-mile sled dog race.
Joanna Oberg of Ontario, Canada, finished the race at 11:26 a.m. Second place went to Jerry Trudell of Calumet, arriving at 11:27 a.m., and in third place was John Hull of Elton, Wis., arriving 11:35 a.m.
"I loved it," Oberg said. "We were in awe of that whole downtown start."
Besides winning the Midnight Run, her first career win, Oberg was also awarded Rookie of the Year and the Cooley Challenge award for the best cared for team.
During the first leg of the race, Oberg, wearing bib number 112, said she was able to pass all but two of the other teams. Leaving first from the Chatham checkpoint, she said her dogs were slow to warm up, but then sped up after the trail became narrow and curvy.
"The trails were fun and interesting and curvy," she said. "I had a blast with this. I felt like I was traveling in some movie. It's really unique and beautiful."
In the second leg, Oberg said she traded the front position with Trudell before pulling ahead.
"The trails were excellent and fast, they said," according to race coordinator Sarah Kimball. "All the mushers had a great time."
After a ceremonial start Friday evening in downtown Marquette, teams traveled to Chatham for the official race start. The teams then ran throughout the night, with a 47-mile loop around the Chatham area before traveling 36 miles to the finish in Munising.
"Late Friday and early Saturday we had a few snow squalls pass through," Kimball said. "The trails were well marked and nobody got lost."
Like the U.P. 200, the Midnight Run was rerouted this year to avoid a lack of snow around the Marquette area and give teams the chance to run a full, safe race.
"Everybody's safe, nobody's hurt," Kimball said.
The race did have two teams that scratched, one at the beginning of the race and one at the Chatham checkpoint, leaving 28 teams to complete the race.
"It went very smoothly," Kimball said Saturday following completion of the race.
Following the return of the mushers, the Midnight Run held its awards banquet at Sydney's Restaurant, with cash prizes totaling more than $10,925 going to the top 15 finishers.
Oberg said all the mushers wanted to thank the race organizers and hundreds of volunteers who worked throughout the weekend.
"It was a huge turnout of volunteers," she said.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.