MANCELONA — Things have been a little more relaxed this year for Jack McKaig as far as the White Pine Stampede is concerned.
The previous several years have had difficulties with weather, but that’s not really a factor this time around as the area has been pelted with snow over the last week.
Warm spells in recent years have led to the race being shortened — and even canceled in 2012 — but that certainly doesn’t appear it’ll be an issue this year.
“Last year was actually kind of a gamble,” race director Jack McKaig said. “There wasn’t much snow here until the Thursday before the race. We got lucky and decided to go with it and it worked out. So this is the year in a long time we’ve been able to enjoy it, rather than get nervous.”
As a result, last year’s event had just over 350 entrants.
McKaig is aiming to have over 500 this year, hoping that a party after the race featuring Short’s beer will be another attractive addition to racers.
“Registration is a little slow right now,” McKaig said. “And I’m assuming that is because of our past weather problems, which we obviously don’t have this year. I think we’ll have a big week of people showing up in the next few days.”
Most northern Michigan areas have at least a foot of standing snow, commonly drifting to well above that due to winds that accompanied recent snowstorms.
“The snow we’ve been getting the past couple days is going to change the grooming,” McKaig said.
With predicted snowfall today and Tuesday, the private property portion of the course will be rolled Wednesday. There’s a chance of snow on Thursday and Friday as well.
The Shanty Creek portion is groomed daily, McKaig said, and the entire course will get another full go-round on Friday before the race.
Early forecasts have Saturday’s high temperature at about 20 degrees, a 20-percent chance of snow and not too much wind (eight mph).
“The volunteers would probably like it a little bit warmer, but it’s a lot warmer than it has been,” McKaig said.