WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 15, 2012
U . P. 200
Weathering changes Downtown Marquette will still be site of start, festivities By JACKIE STARK Journal Staff Writer MARQUETTE — As other sled dog races are canceled around the country due to lack of snowfall, the U.P. 200 is still set to take place, with major changes. Although the U.P. 200 and the Midnight Run will officially begin in Chatham, downtown Marquette will still see dozens of mushers and dog teams leave starting at 7:10 p.m Friday under a ceremonial start for the Midnight Run. Festivities start at 6:30 p.m. This year has seen one of the warmest and driest winters on record in the Marquette area and the lack of snowfall has been a constant worry for organizers of the five-day-long event. “For the first time ever we’ve had a true contingency plan and this is it,” said Pat Torreano, president of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association, which sponsors the event. “We can’t change this back even if we got two feet of snow because we have to reroute a thousand volunteers.” As of late last week, some spots on the trail still needed work, Torreano said, though the parts that run through wooded areas have held up well. Ultimately a lack of snow between Marquette and Deerton caused the races’ starting points to move to Chatham. “We’ll do what we can to make it safe,” Torreano said. The 240-mile race will now begin at the Michigan State University Experiment Station at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 in Chatham and will run to Wetmore, where mushers will have a mandatory three-hour layover plus a time differential. The teams will then head to Grand Marais, go back to Wetmore and return to Grand Marais for the finish Feb. 19. Mushers are expected to arrive between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. As the years have gone by, preparing the trail for mushers has become increasingly more complicated, Torreano said, as
Musher Stevan Bronner and his team of dogs race from the starting line during the 2010 U.P. 200 on Washington Street Marquette. (Journal file photo) more experienced mushers enter to win one of a handful of Iditarod-qualifying races held each year. “Mushers are getting more accomplished and trail demands are greater because of that,” she said. “We saw a slump for a couple of years and now it looks like we’re coming back pretty strong. I would have expected the numbers to be even larger this year, but training conditions have been horrible across the country. We’re very pleased with the number of mushers.” As of Feb. 8, the U.P. 200 had 23 registered mushers, the Midnight Run had 30 and the Jackpine 30 had 10. The first race began as an idea in 1989 from Jeffrey Mann, an avid sled dog racer from Chocolay Township. With help from Scott and Elise Bunce and Tom and Sarah Lindstrom, the idea became a reality in 1990, with the first ever U.P. 200 and Midnight Run. The races need as many volunteers as possible. Those look-
ing to volunteer can contact Volunteer Coordinator Anna Sanford at 942-7850 or via email at email@example.com. “The volunteers play such a huge part in keeping this race alive, not to mention the spectators,” Torreano said. “There’s a kind of enthusiasm for the races that is hard to describe year after year.” Events begin this year on Thursday, with a musher banquet at the Holiday Inn beginning at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend as bib numbers are handed out to the mushers. The veterinarian check for all teams will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Friday in the Riverside Auto parking lot. “We’re hoping to have a great race and a safe race and a fun time for everybody,” said Torreano. “It can be kind of dull in February without it.”
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good viewing spots abound for sled dog races
By Journal Staff With major changes to this year’s routes, spectators who want to watch the weekend’s sled dog races have a variety of new options. Here are some of this year’s race route highlights and the best spots to view them:
Marquette: Marquette is the ceremonial starting point for the Midnight Run race this year. The race begins downtown on Washington Street in front of The Mining Journal office. Opening festivities start at 6:30 Friday night, with the first musher leaving the starting chute at 7:10 p.m. Crowds line the street in anticipation of the start, so bystanders should get there early to get a good spot. Parking is available in the city within a short walking distance of the starting line. With more than 30 mushers entered in the Midnight Run this year, there will be more teams than ever before leaving the starting chute. Spectators can see the dog sled trucks and teams up close as they await their turn at the start. Visitors should not bring pets to the start because they distract the sled dogs, who are already primed for the race. Refreshments are available from shops downtown. Lodging is abundant in the city, with the headquarters for the sled dog races in place at the Holiday Inn. Race souvenirs are available at race headquarters. The Jack Pine 30 race begins in Gwinn and ends Saturday morning on Marquette County Road 480 south of Marquette. Up Front & Company in Marquette hosts a Jack Pine 30
Chatham, Munising, Wetmore: Chatham is approximately 14 miles from Hwy 41 on M-94. The Michigan State University Experiment Station at After a ceremonial start in Marquette, Chatham is the Midnight Run official starting point. It’s a good viewing site with a bonfire
Weekend events listed
Photo montage showing races from years past
Chatham checkpoint viewing spot for Midnight Run
warm-up party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grand Marais and Munising race viewing
and food. Spectators stop in, have a bite to eat and enjoy the race. Sled dog teams will travel a loop around Chatham before returning to an assisted checkpoint in Chatham. Here, the Midnight Run mushers must rest for five hours before racing toward the finish line in Munising.
Viewing continued on page 4
Jack pine 30 excitement
Musher shares stories Joanna Oberg’s dogsledding through books experience
Midnight Run changes
U.P. 200 mascot, 2012 event trophies
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Sled dog events list Weekend packs in fun-filled activities
Left, Elizabeth Arnold, 4, rides a dog sled at the 2009 Kiddie Mutt race at the Marquette Commons. Elizabeth is the daughter of Darcy and Kari Arnold of Brighton. Bill Johnson, 22, of Cheboygan, Michigan, travels the last few miles of the race pulled by a team of nine dogs with one riding in the sled as they travel in between Harvey and Marquette during the 19th running of the U.P. 200. Johnson won 4th place. (Journal file photos)
By Journal Staff MARQUETTE — U.P. 200 sled dog race events build up to a fever pitch in Marquette, beginning today with the opening of race headquarters at the Holiday Inn. Events run through the weekend, with the wrap-up awards breakfast on Monday. The U.P. 200 HQ will be open to the public every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with race merchandise, souvenirs, videos, silent auction items and more. The silent auction ends at noon on Feb. 19. Here’s a rundown of other big events during sled dog weekend: U.P. 200 Sled dog race events build up to a fever pitch in Marquette. Race Headquarters opens at the Holiday Inn on Feb. 15. The U.P. 200 HQ will be open to the public every day from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. with race merchandise, souvenirs, videos, silent auction items and more. The silent auction ends at noon Feb. 19. Here’s a rundown of other events:
Thursday, Feb. 16 ¯ 6 p.m. — The musher banquet will be held at the Holiday Inn at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Mushers are required to attend as their bib numbers will be handed out. Tickets are available at the door, or can be purchased at the merchandise room at the Holiday Inn.
Friday, Feb. 17 ¯ 9 a.m. – noon— Vet check for all teams at Riverside Auto parking lot. ¯ 10 a.m.-2 p.m. — U.P. 200 Mushers’ Brunch, downtown Marquette Commons (sponsored by The Mining Journal) ¯ 1-3 p.m. — Midnight Run Chili Fest, Public Service Garage (sponsored by Public Service Garage) ¯ 4 p.m. — Midnight Run teams begin arriving in downtown Marquette. Watch the mushers prepare for the big race ¯ 4-7 p.m. — U.P. Children's Museum U.P. 200 Family Warm Up Party ¯ 6:30 p.m. — Opening ceremony for the 23rd running of the Midnight Run. Emcees Steve Asplund and Frida Waara welcome sponsors, representatives and spectators to the race. ¯ 7:10 p.m. — Midnight Run ceremonial start in downtown Marquette in front of The Mining Journal. ¯ 8 p.m. — Start of the U.P. 200 in Chatham. ¯ 10 p.m. — Restart of the Midnight Run in Chatham.
Chatham to Chatham loop (musher trucks stay in Chatham). ¯ 11 p.m. (approximately) – U.P. 200 mushers start arriving at the Cherrywood Lodge in Wetmore for a layover. This is an unassisted checkpoint. This is a unique opportunity to see mushers tend to their dogs by themselves. Cherrywood Lodge in 3 miles east of Munising on M-28. Saturday, Feb. 18 ¯ 9:30 a.m. — Jack Pine 30 Race begins in Gwinn at Larry's Family Foods. Runs the old U.P. 200 trail near Highway 553 to Sands Station. Follow railroad track to Goose Lake, then on to County Road 480 finish line. ¯ 11 a.m. (approximately) — Cheer on the Midnight Run mushers as they cross the finish line across from Mather Elementary School in Munising ¯ 11a.m. — Kiwanis Kiddie Mutt Race at the Commons, downtown Marquette. Bring your dog to see what is is like to be a sled dog. ¯ Noon -5 p.m. — Art lovers can visit the Glacier Glide Outdoor art show at Presque Isle park in Marquette, ¯ All day in Grand Marais — The U.P. 200 mushers will strategize and come into the Grand Marais checkpoint throughout the day. They will take a layover and will head back for the return trip to Wetmore. This is a great place to see the U.P. 200 teams up close. Visitors can stroll through the lot and take photographs. Breakfast in the morning. Bake sale, lunch all day, Silent auction 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Massages by the minute 11a.m. -3 p.m. and U.P. 200 merchandise on sale. ¯ 4 p.m. — Midnight Run Awards Banquet at Sydney's in Munising. Open to the public. Tickets available at the door, or they can be purchased at the merchandise room at the Holiday Inn, Marquette Sunday, Feb. 19 ¯ 10 a.m- 1 p.m. — U.P. 200 mushers finish in Grand Marais. Monday, Feb. 20 ¯ 8 a.m. — The U.P. 200 awards breakfast will be held at the Holiday Inn. It’s open to the public. Tickets will be available at the door, or can be purchased at the merchandise room at the Holiday Inn.
Journal file photos
A LOOK AT YEARS PAST
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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Checkpoint Chatham A hub of activity for Midnight Run and U.P. 200 By JOHN PEPIN Journal Staff Writer CHATHAM — With poor snow conditions in Marquette forcing changes to the race courses of the Midnight Run and the U.P. 200 this year, the village of Chatham has become a much more prominent location for spectators and mushers. Mushers from the Midnight Run will have a ceremonial start in downtown Marquette at 7:10 p.m. Friday. The race will then be restarted at 10 p.m. in Chatham. From there, the teams will travel a loop. There will be an assisted checkpoint in Chatham. Here, the mushers must rest for five hours. They will then race toward the finish line in Munising. The earliest arrivals are ex-
pected in Munising at about 11 a.m. Saturday. Teams will be crossing the finish line at the Mather Elementary School in downtown Munising, located off Elm Avenue. After an 8 p.m. start in Chatham Friday, mushers for the U.P. 200 will begin arriving at an unassisted layover checkpoint in Wetmore, located off M-28, about three miles east of Munising. Here the race teams will have a mandatory rest of three hours. From here, the mushers will head northeast to Grand Marais where there will be an assisted checkpoint for the U.P. 200. Mushers will then head back to Wetmore for a second unassisted checkpoint. From Wetmore, the mushers will again head
Viewing spots continued from page 1
Some other good viewing sites in the Chatham area include the Rock River Road viewing site in Chatham; Slapneck Creek, about 2 miles from Chatham on M94 East, where mushers cross under the highway; and the Rapid River Truck Trail off M-94. Continuing east, race spectators can stop at the town of Munising or nearby Wetmore. The action in Munising is downtown, where the Midnight Run finishes at Mather Grade School, located off Elm Avenue, Saturday morning. The best estimate puts Midnight Run finishers arriving in Munising beginning at about 11 a.m. Saturday. Weather conditions and other unforeseen variables will have an affect on this estimate, so watch the U.P. 200 Web site for updates. A number of winter festival activities are planned for Saturday. U.P. 200 mushers will stop at the America’s Best Value Inn in nearby Wetmore to tend their dogs without handler assistance. This is an unassisted checkpoint and the public is not allowed in this area where the mushers and dogs are resting; viewing is allowed once the mushers leave the checkpoint. It’s a great photo opportunity, and there is ample parking, lodging and refreshments available. Grand Marais: Depending on their strategy, the U.P. 200 Mushers will arrive at the Grand Marais checkpoint at various times throughout the day. They will take a layover and will head back for the return trip to Wetmore. This is a great place to see the U.P. 200 teams up close. Visitors can stroll through the lot and take photographs. Breakfast in the morning. Bake sale, lunch all day, Silent Auction 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Massages by the minute 11a.m.-3 p.m. and U.P. 200 merchandise
on sale. Visitors can walk through the straw-lined dog lot to see the teams. On the Lake Superior shore, this checkpoint is fully equipped with food, parking and lodging is available. It’s a great location to see the dog teams at rest on Saturday — a decisive point in the race. You can get lunch or a bite to eat in the race checkpoint, located in the community center on Brazel Street. Veteran race watchers say Randolph Street at Alger is one of the best views when mushers are coming into Grand Marais. Park on Randolph. The mushers come down a steep hill and onto Alger Street. Because of the weatherreated race course changes, this year’s U.P. 200 will also end in Grand Marais. U.P. 200 Mushers finish their run in Grand Marais between 10 a.m and1 p.m. Sunday.
toward Grand Marais to finish the U.P. 200. The earliest finish times in Grand Marais are expected to be around 10 a.m. Sunday. The Chatham layover and viewing location is the Michigan State University Extension Experiment Station in Chatham, located along M-94. The site includes food and a bonfire. For spectators of both the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run hoping to get to see and photograph the sled dog teams in a rural setting, the Chatham area offers a great nighttime viewing area. John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is email@example.com.
U.P. 200 musher Lloyd Gilbertson of Skandia cares for his dogs at the Chatham checkpoint. (Journal file photo)
Veteran musher is U.P. 200 judge By KYLE WHITNEY Journal Staff Writer MARQUETTE —Joe Runyan has seen and participated in sled dog races from Alaska to South America and Europe. On Friday, though, the former musher and Iditarod champion will witness the start of the U.P. 200 for the first time. Runyan, who will be serving as the head judge for this year’s race, said he has heard a lot about the 240-mile Iditarod qualifier and is looking forward to seeing it first-hand. Runyan said he will come to town a couple of days early in order to get a feel for the race and the trail. As a judge, he said, his job is to make sure the trail is in good condition and to be an “informed representative for the mushers.” As it is governed by international guidelines, the U.P. 200 seems pretty simple. “The rules of the event are pretty straightforward, but you have some protocol all the mushers have to satisfy, too,” Runyan said. Runyan — a man who has
run the 1,049-mile Iditarod 10 times — is certainly accustomed to sled dog races. “My business was sled dogs, mostly long distance races, but I moved on to other stuff in about ’95 and without really thinking about it, I fell into being a race judge,” he said. Runyan estimates he has served as a judge or marshal for hundreds of races on three continents. For Runyan, who grew up in Idaho, the involvement in sled dog racing stemmed from a broader interest. After graduating from college, he looked north in 1970. “I had the idea that I wanted to go up to Alaska,” he said. “I was one of that group of people that just kind of disappeared along the Yukon.” Runyan spent 15 years in Alaska, living a solitary life, commercial fishing, trapping
animals and traveling around via sled dogs. He still thinks about his time living in Alaska, and notes that his former lifestyle doesn’t seem to be very popular these days. “I’ve tried to figure out whether young people just have different priorities,” he said. “Those parts of Alaska are now less inhabited than they were then. There are places between villages now that have less population than they did in the Great Depression.” The time spent on a sled spawned a 13-year racing career for Runyan, who won the Iditarod in 1989, just four years after he claimed victory in the Yukon Quest. He also has an Alpirod title to his name. With his racing days largely behind him, Runyan has also written books with mushers
Jeff King and Lance Mackey, each of whom have four Iditarod victories to their name. In fact, when Runyan returned to racing to claim 61st place in his 10th — and supposedly final — running of the Iditarod in 2008, Mackey took first and King was second. Now, 23 years removed from his Iditarod triumph, Runyan lives about as far from sled dog territory as you can get. At his property in Cliffs, NM, he now spends his days as an alfalfa farmer, who raises — among other animals — mules, English pointers and homing pigeons. The U.P. 200 kicks off at 7:10 p.m. Friday. Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Grand Marais checkpoint
Eastern end of trail is new finish line for U.P. 200
By JOHN PEPIN Journal Staff Writer GRAND MARAIS — With race changes this year because of poor snow conditions, Grand Marais will serve as both an assisted checkpoint and the finishing location for the U.P. 200 Sled Dog Challenge, now in its 22nd year. After an 8 p.m. start in Chatham Friday, mushers for the U.P. 200 will begin arriving at an unassisted layover checkpoint in Wetmore, located off M-28, about three miles east of Munising. Here the race teams will have a mandatory rest of three hours. There are great opportunities to see the dog teams up close and take photographs while the race teams move in and out of this location. From here, the mushers will head northeast to Grand Marais where there will be an assisted checkpoint for the U.P. 200. Mushers will then head back to Wetmore for a second unassisted checkpoint.
From Wetmore, the mushers will then again head toward Grand Marais to finish the U.P. 200. The earliest finish times in Grand Marais are expected to be around 10 a.m. Sunday. The U.P. 200 trail winds through the woodlands of Alger County before arriving in the lakeside village of Grand Marais, where the village waits to welcome the mushers on race weekend. The layover location and finish location is the Grand Marais Community Center. “This is a great place to see the U.P. 200 teams up close. Visitors can stroll through the lot and take photographs,” organizers said. Food is available in Grand Marais throughout the day. There will also be a silent auction, massages and U.P. 200 merchandise for sale. The 12-dog teams of the U.P. 200 arrive in Grand Marais after visiting an unassisted checkpoint in Wetmore. The mushers are re-
Changes set for this year’s Midnight Run
By JACKIE STARK Journal Staff Writer MARQUETTE — The Midnight Run, along with the U.P. 200, is still set to run, though it will not start in Marquette as previously planned. Due to a lack of snowfall, the race will hold a ceremonial start at 7:10 p.m. in downtown Marquette, but will officially begin at 10 p.m. at the Michigan State Experimental Station in Chatham. Mushers will leave the chute in Marquette, go to Lakeshore Boulevard and then head to Spring Street, where they will load onto trucks that will take them to Chatham. The eight-dog race will run a loop around Chatham, where teams will have a mandatory five-hour layover plus a time differential and then head to Munising for the last leg of the trip. Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association board President Pat Torreano said the biggest reason for moving the start of the race to Marquette, then to Chatham, was concern for the safety of the teams running the race. The Midnight Run originally began in Gwinn, but problems with trail navigation at night became a safety issue, as did a lack of snow between Marquette and Deerton which left exposed areas of gravel and other problems on the trail. “There have been major trail problems running from Gwinn in the nighttime, particularly the danger of crossing M-553 and County Road
480 at night.” Torreano said. As of Feb. 8, the Midnight Run has 30 registered mushers set to compete. Along with a new starting point, the Midnight Run will have a larger purse as a result of a new sponsor, Rio Tinto. Last year, mushers finishing in 10th place or above received a payout, with cash awards being presented through 15th place this year. The winner of the Midnight Run will receive $2,300, while $7,200 will go to the winner of the U.P. 200. Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is email@example.com.
quired to prepare the dogs' food and water, as well as arrange their bedding with little to no assistance, race officials said. “There are several reasons for an unassisted checkpoint. It makes strategy very important, and provides a distinct challenge for the mushers,” race officials said. “Further, since the U.P. 200 is a qualifying race for Iditarod, an unassisted checkpoint is a very good experience for the musher who strives to compete in a distance race.” Race officials said that in the history of sled dog racing, the unassisted checkpoint brings back into focus the time honored tradition of the musher and his/her dogs alone on the trail. Mushing has evolved into an exciting sport which may eventually become an Olympic event. For fans, the unassisted checkpoint allows a glimpse into the unique relationship shared between musher and dog team.
Since 2003 the race has been routed through Grand Marais. The U.P. 200 is one of America’s premiere 12-dog, mid-distance sled dog races and draws mushers from around the United States and Canada. The first U.P. 200 was run in February, 1990, after two years of planning by sled dog racing enthusiasts. The current race typically covers approximately 240 miles from Marquette to Grand Marais, with a return to Marquette along the same trail. The terrain includes stretches of near-wilderness, creek crossings, hills and valleys, and heavily forested land. Mushers say this is one of their favorite races, not only because of the challenging race, but because of the cheering crowds and warm welcome they receive here in the Upper Peninsula. The U.P. 200 is an Iditarod qualifying race. Registration is limited to 40 teams, and mushers are required to have
finished the Midnight Run or other equivalent 60-mile continuous running race swithin the past three seasons.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dogs in the team of Jennifer Freking of Finland, Minn. roll in the snow after just crossing the finish line in Grand Marais. (Journal file photo)
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Changing course A teenage decision set musher on her dogsledding path By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau IGNACE, ONTARIO — As a teenager, Joanna Oberg unknowingly changed the course of her family’s life. “(A friend) gave me a dog sled ride and I was hooked,” she said. Starting off with her own Samoyed, originally a show dog, and one borrowed dog, Oberg entered her first race — a two-dog kids’ race. She worked extra jobs to buy equipment and feed her team as it grew. Then, after finally being able to purchase a new sled that could carry passengers, she invited her father, John, for a ride. “We went on a ride and it was a full moon night. He had always helped me with the dogs, but he never had been on a ride,” Oberg said. That was enough. After that ride, John and his wife, Daryl, who were living with Joanna and her two siblings in northern Minnesota, decided to invest in more dogs and set up a sled dog excursion company. Now living in northern Ontario where they moved four years ago, Oberg assists her parents in the running of Agimac River Outfitters, an outdoor sports adventure resort. This year Oberg, now 32, will make her debut in the 90-mile, eight-dog Midnight Run, one of the races that first inspired her love of mushing. Originally from Ely, Minn., known as the dog sled capital of the lower 48 states, Oberg started with her two dogs, learning from a more experienced musher and kennel owner and his daughter, who participated in the Midnight Run. “She was just raving about how fun it was,” Oberg said. “Ever since then, I’ve wanted to do it. This year I decided I was going to go for it.” Racing in middle distance races, like the Jon Beargrease Sled Dog Mid-Distance Race in Minnesota and the Midnight Run, is a relatively new pursuit for Oberg, even though she has-
n’t stopped mushing since that first ride. Offering longer sled dog trips proved to be a big business in Minnesota for the family, keeping the kennel of around 60 dogs, and the family, busy throughout the winter season. In the move to Canada, however, the Obergs found that half-day and day-length trips are more popular in their new location. With the dogs pulling lighter loads and making fewer trips, an opportunity opened up that wasn’t present before — the ability to train for races. Now Oberg regularly competes in mid-distance races and sprint races, which she says she enjoys more than long-distance races. “I like the speed and I like seeing how well my dogs do,” she said. Because mushing, for Oberg, is really about a love of animals. In fact, when she began mushing with her two dogs, her parents gave her the choice between having a horse or a couple of sled dogs. Having built the family’s kennel to include higher quality dogs, part of the fun of mushing is seeing how well to dogs do in races, whether on her own team or on teams they are sold to. “It’s really cool to see dogs we’ve bred,” she said. “I like to produce good dogs
Joanna Oberg with her team. (Photo by Ken Hupila of Finn Bay Photography)
Joanna Oberg with a young puppy. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Oberg) and see them excel... Each race is kind of a test of your breeding.” New to the Midnight Run this year, Oberg said she was looking forward to the new trail and seeing how her dogs react to it. “The dogs like the narrow, curvy, interesting trails,” she said. The trails, the dogs and the mushing community make it all worth it, even when temperatures are below freezing. “It’s so much fun. I love the camaraderie of the mushers. We’re all passionate about what we do.” Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is email@example.com.
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Activities abound at Midnight Run finish
By JOHN PEPIN Journal Staff Writer MUNISING — The Munising area offers sled dog spectators great viewing excitement with the finish line for the Midnight Run downtown and a layover checkpoint at nearby Wetmore for the U.P. 200. The race course was altered this year because of poor snow conditions. After an 8 p.m. start in Chatham Friday, mushers for the U.P. 200 will begin arriving at an unassisted layover checkpoint in Wetmore, located off M-28, about three miles east of Munising. Here the race teams will have a mandatory rest of three hours. “This is a unique experience to see mushers tend to their dogs by themselves,” race officials said. There are great opportunities to see the dog teams up close and take photographs while the race teams move in and out of this location. From here, the mushers will head northeast to Grand Marais where there will be an assisted check-
point for the U.P. 200. Mushers will then head back to Wetmore for a second unassisted checkpoint. From Wetmore, the mushers will then again head toward Grand Marais to finish the U.P. 200. The earliest finish times in Grand Marais are expected to be around 10 a.m. Sunday. Mushers from the Midnight Run will have a ceremonial start in downtown Marquette at 7:10 p.m. Friday. The race will then be restarted at 10 p.m. in Chatham. From there, the teams will travel a loop. There will be an assisted checkpoint in Chatham. Here, the mushers must rest for five hours. They will then race toward the finish line in Munising. The earliest arrivals are expected in Munising at about 11 a.m. Saturday. Teams will be crossing the finish line at the Mather Elementary School in downtown Munising, located off Elm Avenue. Hot cocoa, coffee and doughnuts will be available.
The Midnight Run awards banquet will be held at Sydney’s Restaurant in Munising at 4 p.m. Saturday and is open to the public. Tickets will be available at the door, or can be purchased at the merchandise room at the Holiday Inn. Midnight Run mushers will receive one ticket. In addition to the race activities, the One Lung 150 Plus Lap Vintage Snowmobile Race will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday behind the American Legion post in Munising, located along Munising Avenue. For details and more information contact Kris Petosky at 202-1859 or visit www.upperacing .com. Nearby on Saturday, the Munising Moose Lodge Fishing Derby is held on AuTrain Lake from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is the state’s free fishing weekend, when anglers do not need a license to fish. John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a unique experience
Dave Turner of Sandy, Ore. took second place in the 2009 Midnight Run at the Munising finish line. (Journal photo by John Pepin)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Jack Pine 30
Shorter race is long on fun and excitement
By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau MARQUETTE — Area residents might be familiar with the 240-mile U.P. 200, with its traditional big start in downtown Marquette, or the 90-mile Midnight Run. While those two races make up a big part of the sled dog weekend, there’s a third race that completes the U.P. 200 events and provides a unique opportunity to watch the teams. The Jack Pine 30 is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and its second year of official adoption by the U.P. 200. “It gives a competitive venue for people with smaller kennels, for mushers who want to do a one-day, daytime event,” said Darlene Walch, one of the Jack Pine organizers. Usually a 30-mile race from Gwinn to Marquette, the Jack Pine is held the Saturday of the U.P. 200 weekend and is run by six-dog teams. Still set for Saturday, Feb.
18, the Jack Pine, like the U.P. 200 and the Midnight Run, has had to undergo some route changes due to the lack of snow around Marquette. Beginning in Gwinn at Larry’s Family Foods at 9:30 a.m., the Jack Pine first runs parallel to M-553 and then across the Sands Plains. The trail will end along County Road 480 at the Goose Lake Access Road across from the Lindberg and Sons gravel pit, located west of the intersection of C.R. 480 and M-553. The route change cuts the race to around 17 miles, however organizers are looking at putting in an additional loop to regain some of the lost miles, Walch said. The traditional route for the race runs from County Road 480 toward Marquette Mountain, coming up the back of the ski resort and then down the lower half of the Weasel Hill ski run before running out to the Carp River Bridge on U.S. 41 and then down Lake Street,
where it ends outside Upfront and Company near downtown Marquette. Walch said the race is a good chance for spectators to see all parts of a sled dog race, from the start in Gwinn to watching various points along the trail to the finish. With 10 to 15 teams expected this year, the Jack Pine also serves as an event in which new or younger mushers can gain valuable race experience. “The Jack Pine 30 gives people a chance to see how they do,” Walch said. Many of the mushers who have run the Jack Pine have later gone on to race in the Midnight Run or the U.P. 200. “It’s almost like a feeder race,” Walch said. Being a smaller event than the U.P. 200, however, the Jack Pine allows spectators to watch free of the crowd that typically greets the U.P. 200 mushers. The Jack Pine holds its own awards ceremony following the completion of the
race, usually between 3 and 4 p.m. at Upfront and Company, which the public is invited to attend. This year, the Jack Pine is also looking for volunteers, particularly at the start at Larry’s Family Foods in Gwinn. For more information on volunteering or to sign up, go to up200.org/volunteers. When signing up, volunteers should specify they want to help out with the Jack Pine.
Lori Jonestrask crosses the finish line in downtown Marquette during the 2010 Jack Pine 30. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle) Left, rookie musher Lisa Dietzen placed ninth in the 2010 Jack Pine 30. (Journal photo by Jan Hutchens)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Musher shares stories
Winkowski’s books show magic of her sport
Pictured are the covers of three books Winkowski has written. Right, Winkowski with her team. (Submitted photos)
By RENEE PRUSI Journal Staff Writer MARQUETTE — Writer and musher Jackie Winkowski is sharing the magic of her sport with the public. She, photographer Aladino Mandoli and photogapher/musher Lisa Dietzen are doing presentations called “Magic of Dogsledding.” One took place Feb. 7 at Peter White Public Library and another is set for Feb. 21 at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. And Winkowski, accompanied by her dog, Miki, will be signing books at the U.P. 200 headquarters at the Holiday Inn of Marquette
from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. A portion of the book sales made at headquarters will be donated to the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association. And she will be a competitor with a six-dog team in the Jack Pine 30, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Gwinn. Winkowski and her husband, Jim, live in Sands Township with their family of sled dogs, which includes Miki and Mini, both of whom are featured in some of Winkowki’s books. Their Snowy Plains Kennel is a labor of love for the family. The Winkowskis became involved in dog sledding after watching the very first
U.P. 200 race. “When Jim and I started out in the sport of dog sledding, we felt it was too good to keep to ourselves, and by the mid-1990s, we had begun sharing experiences with others. Writing about the dogs evolved naturally.” Snowy Plains sled dogs are mostly Alaskan huskies, sometimes described as a mutt, highly bred for running and pulling, she explained. Several Snowy Plains dogs are a mix of Alaskan husky and Siberian husky and are descended from the Winkowskis’ first sled dog, Ryza, a purebred silver and white Siberian born in 1993. Some of their dogs have
run the Midnight Run, Jack Pine 30, Tahquamenon, and other Upper Peninsula sled dog races. The dogs have ancestors that have competed in the Iditarod, U.P. 200, and other distance events. “Snowy Plains sled dogs are sweet, affectionate and gentle,” Winkowski said. “Each has a unique personality.” Through the kennel’s website, snowyplains.com, more information on the couple, their dogs, sled dog rides, and Jackie’s books can be found. Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is email@example.com.
The Mining Journal
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
UP 200 mascots
Veteran Banshee now has an understudy
Seamus, the 14 month-old malamute who is the U.P. 200 mascot-in-training, has a facebook page which can be viewed at facebook.com/pages/Seamus-Sirius/203118539707910?ref=ts.
Banshee, the malamute who is the official U.P. 200 mascot, has a facebook page which can be viewed at facebook.com/pages/Banshee-Dog/115475769945?ref=ts.
Banshee is just so calm. She’s more human than a human sometimes
By RENEE PRUSI Journal Staff Writer MARQUETTE — Banshee is an 11-year-old malamute who’s been the mascot for the U.P. 200 Sled Dog race for several years. Gentle and patient, Banshee is the picture of serenity when she makes her public appearances, often sporting sunglasses and a U.P. 200 Tshirt to let kids know she’s a big, but friendly, dog. Seamus is a 14-month-old malamute who’s the U.P. 200 mascot-in-training. He’s an excitable boy who yips with joy when he knows he has an audience and sometimes wants to hog the spotlight when he’s out with his big sister. But Seamus is learning, said Todd Hennigan, human dad to the two dogs. He’s had Seamus since the dog was 7 weeks old. “We brought him home Jan. 1, 2011,” Hennigan said. “Seamus is trying. He’s participated in two parades already. Even as a pup he did attend a classroom visit. He’s learning.” When Banshee retires from her mascot post sometime in the next few years, Seamus will take over the duties of educating and enlightening the public — especially children —about sled dog racing. “We’re doing some school visits starting next week,” Hennigan said Feb. 2 when he and the dogs stopped by The Mining Journal office for an interview. “Seamus will come along on some visits. Even as a pup, he had that excitement, that ‘look at me’ factor going. “Banshee is just so calm,” he said. “She’s more human than a human sometimes.” Banshee was born in Newberry and Seamus in west Ishpeming, but the two are being raised as canine siblings by Hennigan and his
wife, Lori. They have two cat brothers, Fergus and Dewey. Hennigan said the dogs have distinct personalities. “Seamus loves being out there chasing squirrels and mice. He’s very attentive. He looks and listens to everything right now,” he said. “He’s a lovable charmer. He loves to be around people and to flirt with the girls. And he eats just about anything and likes pickles and milk. “We have to split Lori’s (leftover) cereal milk between the dogs,” Hennigan said. “That’s something they both love. Banshee, though, is completely mellow.” While Banshee is a big fan of water, Seamus shies away from standing water. And while Seamus loves to be vacuumed, Banshee doesn’t like that home appliance one little bit. Both dogs have a following. “When we go to schools, I talk about Seamus even when he’s not there with us,” Hennigan said. “People already are asking about him.” The dogs each have Facebook pages on which “they” tell their stories about learning to get along with each other. On Facebook, Banshee’s nicknames for her brother are The Snot or The Brat, while he refers to her as Sissie. “There’s jealousy between them sometimes,” Hennigan said. “But for the most part, Banshee really does look out for her little brother. We were in the Winterfest parade here in Marquette a couple of months ago. Banshee was on the sled and Seamus and I were walking along side and she’d be ‘talking’ to him from the sled, telling him to settle down.” Banshee will be the mascot for this year’s U.P. 200, although Seamus may be at
some parts of the race weekend. “This year is still a learning phase for him. He’s in his terrible 2s. He’s hard-headed, but most malamutes are that way. Fortunately with Banshee, she’s not.” Last year, Banshee wasn’t feeling well, so Seamus, as a pup, stepped in to help with race events right in the midst of the excitement. “He spent an hour and a half at the children’s museum and time down at the race, posing for photos,” Hennigan said. “Seamus did really well. He helped us sell the starter bells (which benefit the U.P. Sled Dog Association) and we sold 25 in less than half an hour. “He did a fabulous job.” This year for the first time, Banshee will be receiving support from Rio Tinto, Bennigan said. To learn more about either dog, visit their Facebook pages. Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
The Mining Journal
Dogs focus of trophies
By STEVE BROWNLEE Journal Sports Staff REPUBLIC — In the heavyweight sled dog races known as the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run, it’s only fitting to have heavyweight trophies for the top finishers. For the past decade, Pat Gingras of Republic Memorials in Republic has designed the trophies for the top three finishers in each race. And for the past half dozen races, he’s used black granite and white marble, etching designs on the surfaces of these trophies that weigh between five and 10 pounds apiece. He says that U.P. Sled Dog Association President Pat Torreano gives him “carte blanche” in creating
Granite, marble used for weighty awards the awards. “This is an honor that I really appreciate, knowing that my work and creativity is entrusted into one of the Upper Peninsula’s premier sporting events,” Gingras said. Featuring the sport’s true athletes, the dogs, has been so well received that Gingras wanted to continue that theme for 2012. “Each year I try to come up with something that’s a little different from the previous years’ awards,” Gingras said. “This year I engraved our beautiful Upper Peninsula as a colorful background to the featured dogs, showcasing where this great event takes place. “Once again I was able to come up with awards I
think are worthy of this fantastic winter event and still keeping them different from past years.” He said he started using custom-designed black granite wall clocks for the champion’s trophy in 2007 for both the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run, and smaller stand-up granite trophies placed into marble bases for second and third places. Last year, Gingras obtained photos of specific U.P. 200 and Midnight Run dogs to serve as models in the freehand etchings on the trophies. “I thought this would be a great way to showcase at least some of the competitors,” Gingras said, adding that he was gratified when word got back to him that many mushers head to the
An example of one of the black granite 2011 trophies from last years U.P. 200 and Midnight Run sled dog races. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)
trophy table when they first arrive at race headquarters to see what that year’s trophies look like. In 2010, Gingras produced a wall plaque depicting the first year’s race 20 years earlier called “Beginnings ... Running in the Moonlight.” It depicted one of the race’s founders
— Jeffery Mann — mushing his team through the wooded race course. “This plaque is in limited production and can be seen at the race headquarters during race week and is available for sale with proceeds going to the U.P. 200,” Gingras said. Information is also avail-
able on the U.P. 200 website, www.up200.org, and the Republic Memorials website, www.republicmemorials.com.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is email@example.com.