Hey! Let’s organize a sled dog race!
That’s what a small group of people said in 2009, and from that initial idea the CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 sled dog races were born.
Both races usually run the first weekend in March. The CopperDog 150 features teams of ten dogs and covers 150 miles in three days, while the CopperDog 40 features teams of six dogs and covers approximately forty miles in one day. The CopperDog 150 caps at thirty teams and the CopperDog 40 caps at fifteen teams. Which means … the first weekend in March finds 350+ dogs racing through Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.
The CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 are organized by CopperDog, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization located in Calumet, Michigan, a small town in the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula – a narrow finger of land on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that juts into the middle of Lake Superior. With an average annual snowfall of 241 inches it’s the perfect place for … well, a sled dog race.
Since its beginning the CopperDog races have attracted mushers from around the world. While many mushers come from the Midwest, each race usually has several Canadian mushers competing – and in 2011 and 2012 a musher from South Africa competed.
CopperDog is definitely a labor of love. It is an entirely volunteer operation, with more than 500 volunteers helping to put the race on. Local residents help mushers with their dogs, provide housing, and oversee trail crossings. Local police and fire departments volunteer their time to man all highway crossings and ensure the safety of all volunteers and participants. On its business end, CopperDog, Inc. is run by an unpaid volunteer board of directors.
CopperDog is more than just two sled dog races. In addition to promoting community vitality through sled dog racing, CopperDog strives to provide education on the history and sport of sled dog racing. Numerous public events – such as classroom visits, volunteer training, “Meet the Dogs” events, and free sled dog rides - are held throughout the year.
CopperDog is always looking for new volunteers. If you’d like to work with a great group of people and be part of one of the MOST FUN winter events you’ll ever see, please contact us. We can’t do it without you!