GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – It’s probably one of the coldest and isolated races in the Midwest.

The UP 200 sled dog race.

Man, dogs, and 238 miles of wilderness from Marquette, MI to Grand Marais, MI.

Cell phones are not allowed for the mushers that participate in the UP 200, so ham operators are literally their lifeline.

Ham radio operators are used to communicate during the sled dog race as the race runs through remote locations throughout the Upper Peninsula.

Paul Racine is one of 50 volunteer ham radio operators that will provide vital communication along the trail for the safety of the teams.

Paul says, “If we notice one particular team did not show up at the next checkpoint, then we send teams out like a sweep or a lead vehicle, like a snow machine, to go out and look for that team.”

Ham operators get to work with experimental communication technologies because of the critical nature of their work.

Paul’s hobby has literally taken him out of this world; he says he’s talked to the International Space Station, Africa, China, and throughout Europe.

The UP 200 is set to begin on Friday, February 14.

In addition to qualifying for the Iditarod, the winner is estimated to take home nearly $8,000.