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      Sled dog races are fast approaching

      With only a few days left until the start of the UP 200 sled dog race, the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association is making sure everything goes off without a hitch.

      "Well, we are excited! We know we can get the mushers out of town, so we can have a real start in downtown Marquette," said Pat Torreano, UPSDA President.

      More than 70 mushers are expected to compete between the UP200, the Midnight Run, and the JackPine 30.

      Officials say trails are icy but overall good.

      "Conditions are icy. We are hoping that that has planted a real firm base. That could make for an extremely fast race. I understand we are suppose to get snow today, and we'll just play it by ear here," Torreano said.

      Winners of the UP 200 and Midnight Run will share a purse prize of $34,000. The JackPine 30 has a purse of $1,000.

      This large event is made possible through volunteer efforts. They have more than 1,000 volunteers helping out at the race headquarters at the Holiday Inn and out on the trails. However, they need more help.

      "We are so proud to be part of this. It really is not only good for the community, it's good for us as a property. It creates a whole energy in town; I mean it's become a mainstay for Marquette," said Maggie Mahoney, Holiday Inn.

      Race officials want to remind people if you are coming out to watch, leave your pets at home.

      The race kicks off Friday at 6:50 p.m. If you want to volunteer, check out the U.P. 200 volunteer page on their website.