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      UP200 wraps up with Mushers Awards breakfast

      It's the bitter-sweet closing ceremony for the UP200.

      Many of the mushers and volunteers gathered at Vangos in Marquette for the annual UP200 Mushers Awards Ceremony and Breakfast to give thanks and recognition, but most importantly to say their goodbyes.

      "There's a sadness to this always, sadness because of all the wonderful, wonderful friends we have between the volunteers and the mushers," said coordinator, Pat Torreano.

      Various awards were given out during the ceremony, including the cash prizes for mushers from 12th all the way to 1st place.

      Keith Aili was the big winner of the weekend, and he took home the whopping $7,000 in prize money.

      "It feels good. I had a good race this year. It's nice to be in 1st with that award. I finished with all 12 dogs I started with, so that was kind of nice," said Aili.

      Organizers of the race especially wanted to thank the mushers and volunteers for their kindness throughout the weekend, as each group helped each other and the public brave the cold temperatures during the race.

      "Our volunteers are always special. The mushers being so positive, I think, it speaks to the kind of people they are. They are people who love to be by themselves, in the woods with their dogs, but they're also very kind, not only to their dogs, but the people they run in to," Torreano added.

      Now that another UP200 is in the books, there's much success for everyone involved to celebrate and reflect upon.

      "We were accident free. Everything we tried to design worked, and you can't ask for more," Torreano said.