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      Sled dog races are getting ready for February

      This year the UP 200 and the Midnight Run will be back in downtown Marquette.

      Both races follow the familiar trail between Marquette and Munising, with the U.P. 200 continuing on to Grand Marais, but there are a couple of changes this year. The UP 200 will start at 6:50 p.m. with a 15-minute interval between the 200 and the Midnight Run.

      There is more good news for mushers as the Jack Pine 30 will have a $1,000 purse for the first time ever, and the route will start and end in Gwinn. Mushers have already started signing up.

      "As of last week, there were 21 in the Midnight Run and 20 in the UP 200," said Pat Torreano, President of the U.P. Sled Dog Association. "We expect that number to rise as the snow rises. I'm sure mushers are cautious at this time."

      Torreano added that there are eight mushers registered for the Jack Pine 30.

      Organizers say there is a contingency plan in place if there isn't enough snow in Marquette, but for now the goal is to start the race downtown on February 15.

      For more information on the sled dog races, check out the website here.