Beginning this year, the sled dog race that starts and finishes in Marquette and serves as an Iditarod qualifier is officially known as the “UP200 Powered by NMU.” As a Gold Sled Sponsor, Northern Michigan University is planning more activities around the event, which will be held on Friday, Feb. 17. Its partnership with the U.P. Sled Dog Association also enhances volunteer and service-learning opportunities for students, faculty and staff, and elevates the race's branding and marketing efforts.
The opening ceremony begins downtown at 6:30 p.m., with the start at 7. NMU will host a warming tent nearby, and a meet and greet with President Brock Tessman and his family, as well as Wildcat Willy, at the Trenary Toast Café from 7:15-8:30.
Earlier in the day on campus, a UP200 snow sculpture will be unveiled at 1 p.m. on the north side courtyard of the Northern Center. It will consist of a mushing sled pulled by three dogs, with an NMU arch overhead and a place to take selfies. Housing partner Greystar is sponsoring the vendor, Sculptora Borealis, a company that specializes in creating outdoor ice/snow art. The NMU Constructors student organization is building ice forms used to create the sculpture.
UP200 musher Laura Neese of McMillan, Mich., will participate in a demonstration and meet and greet and demonstration from 1-3 p.m. on the Northern Center courtyard. Fat tire bike demos will also be held at the same time and location.
“When we recruit students, we tell them Northern is a unique place and that students are able to do unique things outside of the classroom,” said Chief Marketing Officer Derek Hall in a previous story. “Partnering with the UP200 demonstrates that in a very strong way. It also makes a big statement about the university's support for the community.”
“Not many institutions can say they are partnering at this level with this type of community event,” said Darlene Walch, president of the U.P. Sled Dog Association (UPSDA). “It's a symbiotic relationship. If we get more students involved and capture their experiences, it creates a unique signature for Northern.”
The UP200, a round-trip journey between Marquette and Grand Marais, is the largest of three UPSDA races held over the same February weekend. There is also an 80-mile Midnight Run from Marquette to Chatham and back, and the Jack Pine 30, which begins and ends in Gwinn.