MARQUETTE - The Ore to Shore starts Saturday and a great deal of prep work went into getting ready for the race, including preparing the trails.
The longest race in the the Ore to Shore is the Hard Rock, which is 48 miles long. Some of the race does take participants on roads, but the majority of the race is done on trails that wind through the woods, said Scott Tuma, Ore to Shore race director.
"It take three full days to mark the trails and weeks of preparation to mow the grass and remove any logs or fallen trees," Tuma said.
The trails for the Ore to Shore races are groomed and marked with signs and caution tape ahead of time for its participants. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Ore to Shore race director Scott Tuma, left, Tony Mattioli, center, and Nic Tuma, right, prepare this week to go out on the trail to mark the course for the races on Country Road in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Tuma said he himself marks the trails with signs and caution tape with two other people. The trail marking is done on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the race.
They use many different signs to mark miles remaining in the race and where to go. They also use over three miles of caution tape to mark the trails as well as hazards to look out for.
"We spend about 10 hours on Wednesday marking trails, eight hours on Thursday and eight hours on Friday," Tuma said. "We also have people go out and remove all of the signs and tape on Saturday after the race and that takes about eight hours as well."
On top of marking all of the trails, they all have to be groomed for the race as well. This means mowing the grass, sometimes removing trees or logs, moving sand, repairing holes or removing rocks, Tuma said, but nothing major.
"Over the last 12 years we've had plenty of times where we have bulldozers and front end loaders coming in to open up a spot that had a lot of standing water or to take down a rocky burr that was too hard for people to get over," Tuma said. "But I would never call any of those major (problems). You fix it as you find them."
According to Tuma, his main course preparation person has been out on the trails for months already.
"He knows the course, he's seen the course and he knows what needs to be fixed on the course, so we can address those areas very quickly," Tuma said.
There are about nine people total that help with the course preparation between grooming it and marking it, Tuma said.
"The hardest part (with preparation) is that it's just so long," Tuma said. "We start all the way out in West Ishpeming and go all the way down to the lake in Marquette. There's lots of miles to cover."
The Ore to Shore will start Saturday morning in Negaunee and Marquette. Registration and packet pick up is today from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. For more information on the Ore to Shore, visit the website oretoshore.com or call the event hotline toll-free at 866-370-7223.
"The course is in great shape because we've been getting just enough rain to keep the dust down," Tuma said. "It impacts the trails real well and the bikes will be able to roll real well. So it should be in really great shape."
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.