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Another great year of sled dog races

We all need a little something to look forward to in the depths of winter.

Luckily, mid-February in the Upper Peninsula comes with the promise of a beloved annual tradition: the running of the U.P. 200, Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 sled dog races.

This year marked the 30th anniversary and 31st running of the U.P. 200, with the 18 12-dog teams participating in the 238-mile Iditarod qualifier taking off from downtown Marquette at 7 Friday night. Later in the evening, the 20 eight-dog teams in the 82-mile Midnight Run took off from downtown.

In true Yooper fashion, revelers, race officials, volunteers, mushers and sled dogs braved the cold Friday and packed the streets of downtown Marquette to kick off the U.P. 200 and the Midnight Run.

While the weather might have been a little chilly, the conditions were just right for the race.

“This is one of the most beautiful nights we’ve had in a while,” said Darlene Walch, president of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association.

After the long journey from Marquette to Grand Marais and back over the weekend, musher Ryan Anderson was the first to reach the finish line at Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Sunday, marking his eighth U.P. 200 win.

Joann Fortier and Susan Serafini were the winners of the Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30, respectively.

Walch was glad to see the 31st running of the U.P. 200 go well, she told the Journal Sunday.

“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.”

We congratulate Anderson, Fortier, Serafini and each and every participant in the races.

We also commend the U.P. Sled Dog Association and the many volunteers for making the 30th anniversary of the UP200 so special this year and every year, as a U.P. winter just wouldn’t be the same without it.

From the numerous volunteers and organizers who put in countless hours to make the races possible; to the mushers and dogs who work all year to prepare and participate in the races; to the businesses, organizations and area residents who make sure our visitors and mushers receive warm welcomes over the busy weekend, there are many examples of the community banding together that can be found on race weekend.

We’re always honored to witness how the annual sled dog race weekend brings out the very best in our community, year after year.

We hope to see this tradition continue to delight and bring people together for generations to come.

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