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      Mushers enjoy meals before big day

      Thursday night, mushers enjoyed one last night of fun and friendship before their big day.

      The annual prerace banquet kicks off both the Midnight Run and the UP 200 .

      By this time Friday evening, competitors will be mushing through isolated trails and frigid temperatures, however, some say the colder, the better.

      "The dogs actually perform a lot better at cold temperatures," said musher Ryan Anderson. "It's actually going to be more conducive for my team to be that cold."

      Anderson placed first in the past three UP 200's but said gaining those golds is no easy task. He insists itâ??s "a lot of work."

      "Miles go into the dogsâ?|training, to actually maintaining their body weights, to physical therapy issues," he added. "A lot of time goes into this team."

      These races test the true skills and stamina of both the dogs and their mushers.

      "There's not only strategy for the racing, but it starts way in the fall when we're training the dogs, choosing the dogs and all that," said musher, Keith Aili. "It's a big process."

      Keith Aili won the UP 200 three times, however, this year is his first time back after a six year break.

      "It takes years to get the right dogs," Aili said. "I'm a little nervous just 'cause I've been out of the sport for so long."

      The first three competitors in the UP 200 are:

      1) Frank Moe2) Ryan Redington3) Troy Groeneveld

      Midnight Run:

      1) Shannon Miller2) Richie Camden3) Al Borak.

      Regardless of who leaves first, all teams are in it to win it.