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Category Archives: CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race

After watching the start of the second leg of the CopperDog 150 in Eagle Harbor we drove back down to Calumet to watch the CopperDog 150 Dog House Race. As it turned out it wasn’t all that much. Teams were supposed to dress up and design a dog house for the race. Most of the team just pulled a sled down the course.

More photos from the race can be found on my website.

Several team members pushed and pulled a dog house down the course with another team member riding in the dog house.

When they reached the halfway point one of the team had to through dog biscuits into a dog dish. As it turned out it was harder that one would think. The best approach seemed to be to land them in front of the dish and let them bounce in.

While one team member tossed dog biscuits the other team members turned the sled around. Once the team member had successfully completed the dog biscuit toss the team then raced back to the finish line.


Day 2 of the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race started in Eagle Harbor early in the morning. I personally like this start because it is a much smaller venue and it occurs during daylight hours. There were only 15 mushers schedule for this leg of the race. These consisted of the mushers who would be running the entire race.

More photos from the race can be found on my website.

We arrived about a half an hour before the start of the race and the mushers were unloading their equipment.

The volunteers and officials were getting organized outside the town hall.

As we walked around the mushers were getting ready and they were preparing the dogs for the race.

Some of the dogs were a little more excited to get started.

The fans were in the stands although I thought there were not as many fans and previous years.

The trail crew was ready to head out onto the race course.

When the race started I was photographing just in front of the starting gate.

No sled dog race would be possible without volunteers to help get the dog team to the starting line.

Most of the dogs were calm before the start of the race.

I walked down the race course a little ways to photograph the dog teams as they headed out onto the course.

After photographing a few team I walked around to get a few photos of the volunteers helping the teams to the starting line.

The teams leave the starting gate in reverse order so the leaders are the last to start the race. These two mushers were leading the race after the first leg.

There were a few teams that did not run. As we walked back to the car we watched the dogs being fed.



The weekend of the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race is usually the weekend that my wife and I make the last ski trip of the season. We usually drive up to Ironwood, Michigan and ski at ABR in the afternoon then drive over to Bond Fall to photograph the waterfall and then head over to Calumet, Michigan. If we have time we ski in the afternoon before heading over to the race in the evening. We try to get to the race venue early so we can walk around and take in the pre-race activities. As you can see by the first shot we were early. We noticed that the starting line had been moved down the street about fifty yards.

More photos from the race can be found on my website.

While the adults were bundled up and trying to keep warm the kids were enjoying the snow.

We walked around watching the mushers get their teams and equipment ready for the race. The mushers usually feed their dogs late in the afternoon and then put them back in their stalls until they are ready to hook them to the sleds.

As race time neared we walked over to the area where we wanted to be to watch the teams start. On the way I noticed the display of dogs in the shop window.

We typically stand across from the announcers booth where the teams will typically be when they leave the starting line.

While we were waiting for the start of the race various groups were getting their photos taken in the starting area. The large group was the volunteer veterinarians for the race.

The color guard was getting ready for the national Anthem for each country represented. This year they they played the U.S., Canada and South African Anthems.

Before the race starts the trail crews and the police head out onto the trail to make sure the mushers have a clear trail.

The official photographer taking photos of the first team out.

The first musher to leave the starting line.

Typically when a team arrives at the starting line the musher walks to to the lead dogs and then walks back to the sled giving encouragement to each of the dogs.

Some of the dogs are a little more excited that others.

Each sled carries an anchor. When the team is at the starting line the anchor is use to anchor the sled so the team can’t take off. As the musher gets ready to leave they are handed the anchor. This musher is putting the anchor onto the sled.

The kids had a front row seat. The adults were freezing and the kids were sitting in the snow.

After watching from the starting line we walked back toward the staging area and watched the volunteers bring the teams to the starting line. Having moved the starting line about fifty yards down the course made it easier to get the teams to the starting line and allowed several teams to be in line at the same time.

After the teams were on the course there were some fireworks which we were able to watch from our hotel while enjoying some hot apple cider.

Saturday morning we drove up to Eagle Harbor to watch the second stage of the race. More photos from the race can be found on my website.

We arrived in time to watch the mushers get their dogs ready for the days race.

Some of the dogs seemed to be a little excited. This one was under the truck trembling. On the other hand the second dog was relaxed.

A race of this size cannot happen without lots of volunteers. Here they are heading out to meet the mushers and teams they will help get to the starting line.

Just before the start the trail crew heads out onto the course to make sure it is clear and safe for the racers.

I walked around and watch the mushers and volunteers hitch up the dogs to the sleds. With some of the teams it is quite a challenge to get them to the starting lines. Other teams just wander up.

I spend some time at the starting line photographing the teams as they were taking off.

I happened to be out on the course photographing when I captured this scary sequence. The race officials had only put snow on one side of the road. Unfortunately several of the dog teams decided to head down the asphalt side rather than the snow covered side. The racer then fell down in her attempt to stop the team since they did seem to be obeying her commands to stop. At the start of a race the mushers usually have to step on the breaks to keep the dogs in check because they have so much pent up energy. The dogs dragged her at least 60 yards. She was still being dragged when she turned a corner. She must have been Ok because she finished the race in 6th place. Several other teams had problems before the race officials lined up a bunch of people to prevent the dogs from straying onto the asphalt.

This is where her team should have been.


This past weekend my wife and I drove up to Calumet, Michigan to watch the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race and to do a little cross country skiing. We just made it in time to walk around before the race and take in the sites. More photos from the race can be found on my website.

The mushers are usually happy to let the kids pet the dogs.

Generally the mushers feed the dogs a couple of hours before the race and then put them back into their homes until they are ready to race. They usually look a little pathetic as the look out the doors. Some of the dogs are a little more reluctant than others to be put back into their homes. This one put up quite a struggle before he finally was put into his home.

The runners on the sleds are a fiberglass material and the mushers have to wax them before the race.

Generally the Michigan Tech and Finlandia University mascots are at the race.

A popular spot before the race is the Hot Chocolate and cookie stand.The sheriffs department heads out onto the course before the race to insure there are no problems along the course which crosses the main road in several locations.

There are a lot of official photographers to capture the race. Video seems to be growing in popularity.

The color guard brings out the flags before the race. This year there were racers from South Africa, Canada and the United States.

Just before the race starts the trail crew heads out to insure that everything is ready for the race. The Michigan Tech and Finlandia mascots were riding on the sleds.

We watched from the start line as the 10 team sled dogs headed out onto the course.


Just a reminder that the CopperDog  sled dog race will be taking place the first weekend in March. If you like sled dog racing it is worth visiting Calumet, Michigan.


This weekend is the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race in Calumet, Michigan. It is a great race to watch in an area that also offers some outstanding cross country skiing. More photos of the CopperDog 150 can be found on my website.








On the final day of the race all of the mushers that started the race also completed in this final leg. This is the first time this has happened. Normally only the participants in the full 150 race participate in the final two days.


It was a windy, snowing and a much cooler day than the previous day. The weather made for some great shots.





A few folks were dressed for the weather.



The crowds were much small than they were for the start of the race.



At the start and finish of the race there is a bag check. All of the teams are required to carry a certain amount of gear in their sleds.




Not every dog who starts the race finishes the race. If a dog becomes injured or gets tired the musher will put him in the sled and he gets to ride the rest of the race. there were four or five dogs that didn’t make it to the finish of this years race.




Some of the teams really wanted to keep going. This dog acted like he was at the start of the race rather than the finish.


End to a long day.


More photos from the race can be found on my website.


The next morning we drove up to Eagle Harbor where the first stage of the race ended and the second stage would start. There are generally far fewer people around for the start of the second stage so it is much easier to move around and take pictures and to get a better view of the race.


Only those musher who are participating in the 150 participate in this stage of the race. The remaining mushers move on to Copper Harbor where they will participate in the third stage of the race.


We had plenty of time to walk aground before the start of the race to watch the mushers getting their teams ready. On the second day the slowest finishers of the first leg start first and the fastest team starts last. This keeps the teams closer together during the race.



The teams are harnessed and volunteers help get the teams from the staging area to the start line. Sometimes it can be a challenge. I noticed one team got away from the volunteers and started racing toward the start line. It took a number of people to stop the sled team.




At the start of the race one of the race officials mans the sled while another holds the anchor down. The volunteers also hold the dogs back and try to keep them from getting tangled up. The sleds are anchored so the dogs can’t take off before their scheduled time. During this period the mushers check on their dogs an calm them down.




Just before the start the musher takes over the sled and the anchor man hands him the anchor.


Not everyone gets to race. Some of the dogs are left behind. They might be injured or a musher has several teams and only one team is participating in the race



After watching the start of the second leg of the CopperDog we drove up to Copper Harbor to look around and wait for the finish of the race. We didn’t have to wait long. In spite of the very warm weather, it was in the 40’s, the race was very fast.



The dogs were soaking wet when they finished the Race. Still a couple of the teams were very interested in continuing to race.


The finish at Copper Harbor is very small and contested. There is not a lot of good places to photograph. There are also a lot of snowmobiles moving around and they use the same trail as the sled dogs. As you can see there wasn’t much snow on the roads so it was difficult to move the sleds around.


More photos from the race can be found on my website.

As we have for the last few years we drove up to Calumet at the end of February to do some cross country skiing and to watch the CopperDog Sled Dog Race. Last year we were out skiing and missed some of the preparations for the race. This year it was way too warm to ski so we walked over to the race well before it started. As you can see we were among the first to arrive.


It was so warm that the street department was hauling in snow so the sleds could make it from the staging area to the to the starting line. The main intersection was about a foot deep in water and slush. It remained a problem throughout the race as mushers and volunteers had trouble navigating through the deep slush.



We walked around and watched the mushers feed the dogs. Typically they bring them out of the trucks and feed them and then they are put back into their house until they are hooked up to the sled.



When they are brought out for feeding it’s a good time for the kids to walk around and pet the dogs. A number of the dogs were more interested in getting attention from the kids than they were in eating their pre race meal.



There is a lot of gear that has to be organized before the race.


The start of the CopperDog takes place at night. Once the dogs are at the starting line the musher walk through the team and talks to each of the dogs.



It takes a lot of volunteers to help get the teams from the staging area to the starting line and keep the dogs in line before they start.



Some dogs are more excited than others. Some of the teams are very calm and others a wild with excitement.


This spectator was getting a little tired toward the end of the evening.


More photos from the race can be found on my website.

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