One more time!
Ryan Anderson grabs record 8th U.P. 200 crown
Anderson, of Cushing, Wisconsin, and his sled dog team crossed the finish line first at 10:01 a.m. Sunday at Mattson Lower Harbor Park, marking his eighth U.P. 200 win.
Sunday also marked the 31st running of the race, which began Friday on Washington Street in Marquette.
“I just enjoy coming to the race,” Anderson said. “It’s an accomplishment that I’m proud of.”
For people following the live tracking on up200.org, they could see it was a close battle between the “Ryans” — Anderson and runner-up Ryan Redington of Skagway, Alaska, who finished at 10:35 a.m.
“I caught him, like, an hour and 10 minutes out,” Anderson said, “And then he was running with me for a while, and then I just slowly pulled away.”
Anderson said the U.P. 200 trail had a “little bit of everything.”
“There was good hard trail and there was slow trail and there was snowing,” he said. “It was snowing in Deerton again. I was like, ‘I don’t think this is going to last all the way to Marquette.'”
He was right, the snow didn’t last, and no blizzard awaited Anderson as he and his team made it into town, although he crossed the line with only 10 dogs instead of the usual 12.
That wasn’t unusual since mushers sometimes have to leave dogs at checkpoints or carry them “in the basket” due to safety or stamina issues.
However, Anderson did compliment his dogs.
“Those two leaders are pretty outstanding,” he said. “I ran them together the first run.”
Anderson acknowledged those dogs will age, so since he’s trying to nurture new leaders, he spent the middle two runs working with other dogs to try to replace them.
“I don’t know if I can,” he said.
The race went from Marquette to Grand Marais and back for a total of 227.2 miles.
Martin Massicotte of Saint-Tite, Quebec, was third, coming in at 11:02 a.m.
Darlene Walch, president of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association, was pleased with this year’s U.P. 200.
“This has been an awesome race,” Walch said. “Everybody’s been doing really well and it’s going to be one of the best as far as teams coming in fairly close together just because of the weather, of the competitiveness and the level of quality of the mushers.
“These are very, very good mushers.”
The U.P. 200 is an Iditarod-qualifying race and historically has attracted top mushers.
The U.P. 200 banquet took place this morning at the Holiday Inn.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.