MARQUETTE - As an added incentive for mushers considering a run in the Jack Pine 30 sled dog race, a $1,000 purse is being offered for the first time this year.
According to Pat Torreano, president of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association, the board has not decided how the prize money will be split yet. Sponsors for the purse include SIR Federal Credit Union, Potlatch Corp., Argonics Inc. and Superior Extrusion Corp.
"We're hoping to generate more interest and participation," she said.
She added that the prize money is not the only change for this year's race. The Jack Pine 30 route, which in previous years had mushers traveling the 30 miles from Gwinn to Marquette, will now begin and end in Gwinn.
Participants will take off from the traditional location at Larry's Family Foods at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 16. Mushers will travel north from Gwinn and follow the usual race course along M-553 onto the Sands Plains. After crossing the railroad at Sands Station, mushers will travel a trail that loops around the plains and guides them back through Sands Station. The race will end at the First Baptist Church in Gwinn.
There are currently six mushers registered for the Jack Pine 30, which is a six-dog race. Torreano said the race is an opportunity for mushers who are just starting out to gain some experience, as well as a possible money prize.
"We'd love to see a growth in this race," Torreano said. "The race is being handled by the community of Gwinn ..."
The Jack Pine 30 is part of a big weekend of sled dog racing. The 2013 U.P. 200, Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 will kick off with the opening of headquarters at 9 a.m. Feb. 13 at the Holiday Inn of Marquette.
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.