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On Friday Afternoon we headed up to Calumet, Michigan to watch the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race and to so some cross country skiing at the Swedetown Ski trails. This year there were over 40 teams involved in the two races. The trip took a little longer than expected. The roads in our area as still covered with an inch of ice and some of the main roads had icy patches on them.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0491

We arrived just in time to get our cold weather gear on and head over to the start of the race. The first stage of the CopperDog is run at night and involves teams racing all three stages as well as teams racing the CopperDog 40 which is the first stage of the race. While my wife, first photo, was intimated by the very cold conditions apparently not everyone else was.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0436

CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0429Before the race we like to walk around and watch the mushers get their teams ready for the race. This involves getting the dogs out and feeding them. Once they are fed they are put back into their houses until race time. I was watching one racer chop up frozen meat to heat up. It makes something like s soup for the dogs. All of the dogs were attached to a single chain along the side of the truck when one end of the chain came loose and all of the dogs ran down to the next truck to visit. It took the mushers a while to get them untangled.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0433

The CopperDog is run on 150 snowmobile trails in the Keweenaw. Just before the race starts a team of snowmobilers head out onto the trail to make sure the trails are clear and signs are posted to watch out for sled dog teams. It is also necessary to make sure the sled dog teams safely cross the roads.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0451

The start of the race takes place on the main street of Calumet. The day before the race they bring in snow and cover the street with snow. This year it wasn’t a problem getting snow since they have had almost 300 inches.

We took up a position right across from the announcers booth where the race starts. When the teams arrive at the starting line the dogs are out on the course and the sled is held at the starting gate. The sled is then hooked at the starting gate so the dogs can’t take off. Since the dogs are raring to go the sled can spend some time in the air as the dogs try to head out onto the course. In addition to being cold it was also snowing. It takes a lot of volunteers to make a sled dog race happen and sometimes the dogs are a handful in their exuberance to get out onto the course.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0488

CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0475

We watched about half of the race from the starting line but then started to get cold feet standing for over an hour so we decided to get a hot drink and walk around watching some of the preparation activities. Some of the dogs were still waiting to get hooked up while others were already on the course.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0502

This is a volunteer trying to hold an exuberant dog back before they headed to the start of the race. In the background you can see a dog with a red light on its harness. Most of the lead dogs have lights so the musher can keep track of where the dogs are.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-14-3-_0542

After the start of the first stage of the race we headed back to the motel for a hot meal. More Photos from the Race can be found on my website.

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