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      On your mark, get set, sit down!

      The 15th Marquette General Health System Annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon kicks off in just over two weeks in Marquette, and it comes with something new: a 3K and 500 meter Sit Ski Race in partnership with the Superior Alliance for Independent Living. The new races will allow those with physical disabilities to compete.

      Twenty-seven-year-old Negaunee native Jessica Manier has never sat on a sit ski, until Thursday. Manier has cerebral palsy that affects her lower extremities, so she has never been able to ski like most people. The upcoming Sit Ski Races at this year's Noquemanon gives her the opportunity to ski her own way. "To be able to have something adapted, and for me to be able to get out here and do things, and be included in a race like the Noquemanon just like everyone else...it's a great feeling," said Manier.

      She says she is excited for the new and exciting challenges. Manier will be training for the 3K race on her own or with her friends and coworkers at the Superior Alliance for Independent Living. She'll be a part of SAIL's Adaptive Ski Program that practices on Thursdays.

      "Let me tell you, I'm a very competitive person, so even if I go 100 feet, I better beat that person behind me!" Manier joked.

      Even if she doesn't win, she'll still have a winning attitude.

      "Hey, you know what? At least I'm out there, I'm having fun, and hopefully I'll be ahead of somebody," Manier said.

      With the new Sit Ski Race, organizers are hoping to bring a larger audience to the Noquemanon.

      "It's just a wonderful opportunity for the ski marathon and the Noquemanon to bring new people into our race atmosphere," said Nicole Dewald, Race Coordinator and Noquemanon Trail Network Operations Director.

      Any adaptive skier can compete in the Sit Ski Race. They are asked to communicate their needs to the NTN beforehand so arrangements can be made. Manier welcomes all fellow competitors.

      "I mean, anyone, whether you're able-bodied or not, I encourage you to come out, join the race and have fun, be competitive, but also strive to get better whether this is your first year or twentieth year, whatever it may be," Manier said.

      Manier will be competing on Saturday, January 26, from the Tourist Park Trailhead. To volunteer or register for the Noque, visit their website . To learn more about SAIL, click here.