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MARQUETTE, Mi. — Ready…set…mush! The UP200 sled dog race is ready to roll!
“The downtown start is amazing” said Ryan Anderson, an 8 time race winner of the UP200.
Dump trucks loaded with snow began building the starting trail Friday morning at 5am. Right on the main street, cutting through the heart of Marquette, Michigan.
“Seems a little crazy but this is what we have to do to run dogs out of town and bring this great community event to life.” said Ross Anthony a UPSDA board member.
And a Wisconsin woman is taking to the trails tonight too. Meet Lucy, who’s 69 years old and still mushing on!
“Wonderful to be out in wild nature and just take it all in.” serenely explained Lucy Tyrrell, whose been a musher for 20+ years.
She began mushing in the later years of her life, hath the historic Iditarod under her belt, and is now coming full circle back to where it all began.
“See if I can do it! If you have the motivation anybody can take a few dogs and make it into a sport!” laughed Tyrrell.
Vet checks were underground Friday morning, checking the dogs physic, paws, limberness and health.
“I really enjoy working with the dogs and training them and trying to build that relationship. It is really phenomenal when you have a team of 12 dogs and you cannot touch them. So everything is voice command and it’s awesome when they are all doing the same thing, same speed and it’s working.” Said Darlene Walch the President of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association.
7pm the first team rolls out of downtown and headed west into the woods!
“It’s a little more in the wilderness, being this close to Lake Superior. Any north wind she can throw a little punch at us so…” Anderson explained.
They will head to their first check point, enduring the true test of stamina.
And a local man from green bay is in charge of keeping track of the teams as they go through check points.
“If one of the teams does not come through, that we are expecting, then we start to go back and look for that team.” said Paul Racine for UP200 Headquarters and Radio Communication.
The wild weather can make trails disappear and inadvertently, teams could go off the trail, blinded by blizzard conditions.
As they head into the dark, blustery and brutal winds this weekend, you can track them online.
Click here for LIVE gps tracking on mushers and their dog teams.