The 2007 "Race To Mackinac"

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The W8MRM/m Team In Front of "Mighty Mac"

(l to r. KC8OBH, KC8PKY, KC8NAH & N8MR)

2007 was the 50th anniversary of one of Michigan's most prominent landmarks, the Mackinac Bridge which connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of the state.  It is the third longest suspension bridge in the world, and the longest in the western hemisphere.  To help commemorate the celebration of this milestone (which would actually occur in July 2007), the Mackinac 50 award for participation in the MiQP was created by Hank Greeb, N8XX.  To win the award, MiQP participants had to spell the word "M-A-C-K-I-N-A-C" with the first letters from the suffixes of Michigan stations worked during the contest.  During the log checking process, all entries were run through a computer program which would determine whether the entry had worked the necessary stations to win the award.

When the scoring was complete, a total of 145 entries (75 in-state and 70 out-of-state) out of the 256 received for the 2007 MiQP were able to earn the Mackinac 50 award.  Some stations worked enough stations to earn the award multiple times.  We decided to chronicle the entrants' results in achieving the "Mackinac 50" award, which we've characterized as "making the trip to Mackinac".  (Those of us who are long-time residents of the state will grasp the connection between the term and long ago family vacations heading up north.)  The competition to make the trip first has been nicknamed, "The Race To Mackinac".  Sadly, there are no additional awards for winning this race; maybe next year...

The first station to make it to Mackinac was Joe, W6RLL, operating from Arizona.  Joe was QRV when the MiQP starting bell rang, and in only 41 minutes had worked the stations necessary for the award.  "Mackinac" contains eight letters, so it would take at least eight QSOs to get the letters required.  It took Joe only 17 QSOs to get all of the letters.  He was followed in the race by Jerry, K5YAA from OK (48 minutes/35 QSOs) and John, N6MU from CA (55 minutes/18 QSOs).

The lack of short skip on 40M made it harder for the in-state stations to achieve the award, although some operators shifted to 80M early to get the job done.  The first Michigan station to "make the trip" was multi-op entry K8R from Menominee county.  It took this group 71 minutes/102 QSOs to work the required stations.  They were followed in the race by a pair of single operators; Duane, K8AO (90 minutes/110 QSOs) and Jeff, KE9S operating K8I (91 minutes/21 QSOs).  Overall, it took the 74 in-state winners an average of 140 QSOs to "make the trip", while the 70 out-of-state winners averaged just 37 QSOs to complete the award.  This is not surprising, as by the rules of the contest the Michigan stations were working a combination of MI and non-MI stations while the out-of-state stations were focusing solely on MI stations.

Still, propagation played a differing role for each group.  The out-of-state entries tended to finish the trip earlier, using 20M and 40M to get their signals into Michigan for the necessary QSOs - 49 of the 70 out-of-state awards came in the first half of the contest.  This is in contrast to the Michigan stations who had to rely on the lower frequencies such as 80M to get skip within the state, and as a result 45 of the 74 in-state awards were accomplished in the last half of the contest.

Several stations "made the trip" multiple times.  Certainly, the activity was there, and the serious competitors were able to work enough stations for multiple trips.  The king of the multiple trip was Jeff, KU8E operating from his Georgia QTH who made the trip eight timesJerry, K5YAA from OK was right on Jeff's heels with seven trips, followed by Dick, K9OM from FL and Keith, WA3HAE from PA with six trips apiece.  Next in line were three of the big Michigan multi-multis: K8MQP, K8R and K8XXX tied with Gerald, KE9I from IN and Mike, N1IW from NH with five trips apiece.

The Mackinac 50 award certainly added an exciting element to this year's MiQP.  It is likely that the MiQP Committee will be looking to find another significant Michigan event to base such an award on for the 2008 contest.

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