It's important for us to recognize successful events that draw visitors to our community. This past weekend's Noquemanon Ski Marathon is one such event worthy of praise.
Yet again, the folks behind the Noquemanon pulled off a superior weekend of ski racing, snowshoeing, snowbiking and skijor racing.
And it wasn't easy, to be sure. The Noquemanon faced sustained winds at 15 miles per hour -with gusts near Lake Superior reaching 25 mph - and sub-zero temperatures. It was so bad, in fact, the Torch Light Trek that usually jump starts the weekend's events was postponed because of the dangerous cold.
But the Noquemanon coordinators, volunteers, skiers and spectators toughed it out.
Skiers from across the country flocked to Marquette for the epic cross-country marathon, and our hat is off to those who made the weekend possible. That so many Midwesterners and those from even farther came only speaks to the success the Noquemanon has built in its tenure as the premiere ski race in the Upper Peninsula.
The winner of the women's 50K freestyle race, Diana Finkel of Colorado, offered a bit of a surprise to the race; and to herself. She crossed the finish line and headed into the Dome to warm up without realizing that she was in fact the winner.
"I'm surprised, I'm just shocked," she told The Mining Journal after her race. The Upper Peninsula was well represented at the event, as well. Michael Brothers of Houghton won the men's 50K as he and all the other racers overcame tough conditions. Plenty of other U.P. racers turned in outstanding times in all events as well.
All those who traveled to Marquette for the race were welcomed with a taste of Marquette hospitality as the Noque officially got under way Friday night with the pasta feed and ski expo. Vendors set up inside the Dome during registration packet pickup and the pasta feed allowed racers to bulk up on high-energy food the night before the races.
A lot of credit is due to all those behind the scenes who made the race possible. The event planners and coordinators, volunteers who worked at the pasta feed, start and finish lines, along the course and at aid stations, groomers and time keepers have all earned themselves a well-deserved pat on the back.
And let's not forget the skiers themselves. These hearty and persevering individuals are what the races are all about.