BY MIKE ECKERT
MANCELONA — The race is on.
After rain and 50-degree temps this week, the White Pine Stampede benefitted from snow on Wednesday and Thursday to make Saturday's race a reality.
"We got around a foot of snow, maybe," race director Jack McKaig said. "So we're all happy and smiling."
Last year's cross country ski race, which begins at Mancelona High School and ends at Shanty Creek Resort, was cancelled because of warm weather.
This year's event looked promising a week ago, but was once again in the balance after warm weather and rain at the start of race week.
"It's a big difference from last night," McKaig said on Thursday evening. "We had to inform Shanty Creek of our plans by (Wednesday). Of course we had a lot of predictions of snow coming, but all we were seeing was rain. So we elected to take our chances. And it paid off."
There was so much snow on Thursday, that workers weren't able to get out with a snowmobile and a roller. That issue was being taken care of by a combination of race volunteers and the Antrim Co. Snowmobile Club, who went out to pack down the snow on the private property areas of the course. McKaig said the trail will be groomed on Friday.
"All we need now is a few more people," McKaig said. "We've got around 180-190 registered. I fully expect to have a bunch over the next two days."
Skiers can register by fax — (231) 587-8065 — or by phone — (231) 587-8812 — by noon today, or register in person after 3 p.m.
Cost of the race is $35 for the 10K or $75 for either the 20K or 40K.
The 40K will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The 20K starts at 10:30 a.m. and the 10K begins at 11:30 a.m.
For more information, visit www.whitepinestampede.org.