U.P. 200 sled dog race shortened by deep snow
Wisconsin musher claims record seventh title
MARQUETTE — Ryan Anderson of Cushing, Wisconsin, won the U.P. 200’s 30th running, crossing the finish line at 3:52 a.m. Sunday near Timber Products in Wetmore.
Finishing second was Martin Massicotte of St.-Tite, Quebec, who crossed the finish line at 4:42 a.m.
This is Anderson’s seventh time winning the U.P. 200, more than any other champion of the race.
There were 14 teams of 12 dogs each who started the event Friday evening in front of The Mining Journal office on West Washington Street. The U.P. 200 sled dog race, which is typically 230 miles, concluded near Timber Products in Wetmore rather than Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette due to recent weather and trail conditions slowing the teams down.
Four hours were also cut from the mandatory rest time at the Grand Marais checkpoint, so instead of 15 total hours, teams had 11 hours of rest. According to race organizers, the first teams left Grand Marais shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, continuing until 2 a.m. Twelve teams crossed the finish line early Sunday, with Kevin Vandenbussche scratching and Michelle Redstone not finishing.
A ceremonial finish took place at Lower Harbor at 1 p.m. Sunday, where teams traveled from the Michigan Welcome Center along U.S. 41 near Harvey, arriving in the order they completed the race in Wetmore.
Anderson — sporting bib No. 4 — was greeted by a large crowd of supporters as he crossed the line at Marquette’s Lower Harbor with his team of Alaskan huskies.
He said he was unaware of how much snow the area had until he was on the trails, which slowed his team down significantly. Regardless, he said, he’ll be back for more.
“I’ll be back next year,” he said. “It’s a great time.”
Anderson finished with 10 dogs, who were in good shape, he said. The 37-year-old began racing about 28 years ago and has won numerous races, including the mid-distance John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.
Ross Anthony, the race’s start and finish coordinator, said he talked to Anderson before the race and asked him how he was doing this year.
“He said ‘I don’t know … we’re just going to go out there and do the race.’ I said, ‘Ryan, you told me that two years ago when you won it and the year before that and the year before that when you won your third year in a row.’ And sure enough, he pulled it off again,” Anthony said.
Massicotte, along with Ryan Redington, who came in third, agree that the trails were more difficult this year.
“The trails were very tough,” said Massicotte, who will be participating in the Iditarod next year. Redington said although they were “very slow trails,” the race was still fun.
“It’s a really great race and we’re glad to be back here in the (Upper Peninsula),” he said.
Anthony said the trail crew worked tirelessly to try to keep up with the snow.
“The amount of snow we received on Friday and Thursday, … pretty much every day for the last week — there’s only so much you can do,” he said. “The teams were going slow because of that. If you can imagine on the beach, having to kick your feet up instead of striding, it’s a lot of work for the dogs. It was just getting to a point where it wouldn’t be safe to bring them into Marquette.
“I know the race is shortened, but I bet what they ran is probably equal to two of the normal U.P. 200s because it was absolutely grueling out there.”
This year’s purse for the U.P. 200 was $35,600, with the winner receiving $8,600.
The Midnight Run’s champion, Joanna Oberg of Grand Marais, Minnesota, crossed the finish line at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Mattson Lower Harbor Park. That 90-mile race from Marquette to Chatham and back involved 15 teams of eight dogs.
And the Jack Pine 30, a 26-mile, six-dog race in Gwinn on Saturday, saw Geri Oberg of Newberry triumph in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 50 seconds.
For more information, visit www.up200.org.
Jaymie DePew can be reached at email@example.com