Noquemanon hits 20 years with weekend event

With January comes the return of the Noquemanon Ski Marathon, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the event.

The festivities kick off at 4 Friday afternoon with the Junior Noque races at the Forestville Trailhead. Friday is also the last day to register for the races, and there will be a ski expo, registration and packet pick-up from 5-10 p.m. at the Superior Dome in Marquette. Blackrocks Brewery’s 51K IPA, the official beer of the Noquemanon, will be offered at the expo from 5-9:30 p.m. by Simply Superior of Northern Michigan University.

The 50K race begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, and will end at the Log Yard — about 4 kilometers west of the Superior Dome.

“Mother Nature has been on our side this year, and we have a new finish line,” said Nicole Dewald, race coordinator for the Noquemanon Ski Marathon. “The Noquemanon is a family affair. We have citizen races as well as the big race. The big race is bringing in about 10 of the top names in the U.S. for skiing.”

If you have never attended the races, this weekend would be a great opportunity to check them out. The forecast is looking unseasonably warm, but still brisk enough to allow for decent trail conditions. After all, we don’t usually get too many chances to enjoy some outdoor activities this time of year.

“The weather is supposed to warm up, however not too bad to melt the snow,” Dewald said. “We’re working with the local weather station with NOAA about the current weather and any changing weather, but as of right now, the snow is going to hold very strong. But we do need people to stay off the trails once the temperatures get above freezing.”

She added that those who frequent the Tourist Park area should please be mindful of the snow and that they are trying to save some of it for the ski race.

Awards for the Noquemanon, Half Noque, 15-mile Snowshoe Wave, 12K ski and adaptive events is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at the Superior Dome. On Sunday, the 20K Snow Bike race, 8.5K Animoosh Skijor, 10K and 5km Snowshoe will be held. All of those events start and end at the Forestville Trailhead.

For more information on the events, visit www.noquemanon.com.