2022 Race Rules Adopted

December 10, 2021

The UPSDA Board unanimously approved the 2022 UP200, Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 race rules at their December meeting. Changes were minimal but mushers will want to look at the veterinary section about mandatory vaccinations. Rules will be posted on our website soon.

A request from Midnight Run mushers to allow dogs to be boxed at the Chatham checkpoint was given a great deal of consideration. The request was well presented to the Board by Lynne Witte, Midnight Run musher representative. Pros and cons of allowing dogs to be boxed were discussed at both the November and December meetings. Board members received input from race judges, veterinarians, checkpoint coordinators and mushers. Ultimately the Board voted to keep the rules as they were and did not approve boxing dogs.

There are several reasons for this decision. Regarding dog welfare, the board feels that dogs get more rest unboxed given that it’s only a 5-1/2 hour layover. Our veterinarians will not check any dogs that are boxed and they wait until dogs have been in the checkpoint long enough to get an accurate sense of recovery from the trail. For dogs bedded down on straw, a vet check can be minimally disruptive, with dogs resting or even sleeping during the vet check. If dogs are boxed, they have to be taken out of the boxes or wait until after the vet check to go into the boxes, a process that can disrupt their overall rest.

The Midnight Run is a qualifying race for the UP200 and mushers cannot box their dogs in the UP200. Mushers in the Midnight Run learn checkpoint strategies that will serve them should they decide to race the UP200, a step many of our mushers have taken over the years. We believe it’s best practice to maintain continuity between these two races as much as possible.

The Midnight Run and UP200 are more traditional mid- and long distance races. If dogs are boxed it moves the races away from the original intent and spirit of these races. There are significant differences between the experience of a stage race, where dogs are typically allowed to be boxed partly because of the long layovers between each leg of the race, and the more traditional distance races. The UPSDA Board weighed on the side of upholding the traditional intent and spirit of the Midnight Run.

Board members recognize that some mushers will not be happy with this decision, however we also hope that our mushers recognize this request was given serious deliberation. We strive to host challenging and competitive races that uphold the long-standing tradition of mid- and long distance mushing in the Upper Peninsula.