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      Marquette prepares for sled dog races

      Preparation crews began dumping snow on Washington Street on Friday morning in Marquette to get ready for the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run sled dog races.

      The first trucks of snow began arriving at around 7:30 a.m. to help transform the street into a chute for mushers and their dogs. Crews from Oberstar dumped 30 loads of snow on Washington Street. The snow was trucked in from behind the Riverside Auto mall.

      Snow is now covering Washington Street from Fifth Street to Lakeshore Boulevard, but most of the roads in downtown Marquette will re-open by 2 a.m. on Saturday. The only exception is east Washington Street from Front to Lakeshore, which will be closed until Sunday at 1 p.m. That's where the first-ever Downtown Showdown Rail Jam will be held on Saturday, starting at 3 p.m.

      While volunteer crews worked on setting up the starting area for the race, mushers took their teams to Marquette Township.

      Vet checks for the dogs began at 9 a.m. at Riverside Automotive and the Holiday Inn. Veterinarians checked the paws and weight of the animals to make sure they are healthy to race, according to one of the vets. Organizers also make sure that the dogs are up-to-date on their shots.

      "Our primary concern is the health of the animals," said Veterinarian Jeff LaHuis. "To make sure that they're able to run the race well and not become lame, not become sick, or ill. Our goal is to not have no dogs drop or pull during the race. We want to make sure we catch anything before we start."

      The dogs are given a body scale rating of 1 to 5, with 5 being overweight, and any animal with a rating of 1 being disqualified for being underweight.

      If you are interested in a full list of events, check out the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association's website here.

      We will be following the progress of race preparation and events on TV6 & FOX UP, so check out the links below. You can also follow the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run directly on Twitter here.

      U.P. 200 Mushers Midnight Run Mushers

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