You can feel the excitement from one end of the Michigan Upper Peninsula to the other. This weekend has special meaning for my friend Deb Baker because she used to race dogs. Our family will find the perfect spot to watch them fly out of the chute. Whether its the 91 mile Midnight Run 8 dog teams out of Gwinn (Friday at 6pm) or the 240 mile trail 12 dog teams out of downtown Marquette (Friday at 7pm), this promises to be the best year yet. Snow everywhere! And the dogs are ready.
The Up 200 is a qualifier for the Iditarod so expect to see some fine drivers in town. Add 15,000 fans and 500 volunteers and you have yourself a fine party. Here is some insider info:
1. Mushers don't call themselves mushers. The rest of the world does though.
2. The dogs love running so much that it takes a slew of volunteers in the chute to hold them back. They'd leave their driver behind without a second thought. At this point in the race 'whoa' doesn't work.
3. While volunteers are holding the team, the driver will walk along the line encouraging each of his dogs before he gets back on the sled. That sets them off again. The howling is eardrum shattering.
4. The dogs leave the chute at an incredible speed. Nothing can stop them now. But then they even out and pace themselves. Although those crazy Midnight Runners like to run like nuts.
5. The colder the better for the dogs. Temperatures in the thirties are hard on them. So hope for cold.
6. Don't stay home because its freezing cold outside. A true Yooper knows how to dress. Don't be a wimp.
If you can't be there, you can check out race coverage, view photos, and even watch a video of the start, go to the UP200 website .
Gertie, all excited and ready to watch the finest dogs in the world compete.