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Category Archives: CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race

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.

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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.

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

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A few folks were dressed for the weather.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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End to a long day.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

On the last day of the race we spent the morning skiing. We arrived at the race well ahead of the time the first finishers were scheduled to arrive but the course conditions were very good and two teams had already arrived when we reached the course. It started to snow just as we arrived.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-15-3-_0608

Some of the mushers arrived in a group. Here three teams were neck and neck. the second team passed the first team just before the finish line.

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We walked around and watched to dogs get fed. This dog was really hungry and finished his foot and tried to get the food of another dog but he was constrained by the harness.

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As this team arrived another team was getting fed and they tried to stop and eat the food from the team that had already been fed.

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

On Day two of the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race we drove up to Eagle Harbor to watch the start of the race. The mushers start in reverse order, that is the leading musher is the last to start.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-15-3-_0878

We walked around quite a bit watching the racers leave the starting area.

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We also spent time watching the teams being hooked up as well as being brought to the starting line. It was a little different this year because someone had packed the snow down in the park so it was much easier for the mushers and volunteers to hook up the dogs and get them to the starting line.CopperDog-150-Sled-Dog-Race-15-3-_0862

Every year the kids get bored with the race and usually start playing in the snow. this little girl was building a snowman.

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

We had gone skiing and were a little late arriving and most of the dogs had been fed and put back in their houses until the start of the race.

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The race officials were checking the bags and the mushers were starting to get their sleds hooked up.

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At the start of the race some dogs are a little more excited than others.

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We watched the first tier of dogs start off and then walked around and watched the volunteers bring the sleds to the start line.

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

The next morning we had an early breakfast and heard to Eagle Harbor to watch the start of stage two of the CopperDog. It was a beautiful clear cold day. Again the temperatures were below zero. A great day for the dogs but cold for the spectators.CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race 14-3-_0284

When we arrived the mushers were getting ready for the day’s events. The dogs had been fed and they were out of their houses. On the second day the number of dog teams was smaller since only those doing the full CopperDog 150 were racing.CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race 14-3-_0216

As we walked to the starting line I noticed someone was using a drone with a GoPro camera attached. It was the same couple I had noticed the night before using a GoPro to film the race. They had all sorts of cameras and camera mounts to give them the best chance to catch the events from the best angle. I suspect this will not be the last time I see GoPros and drones since they are starting to become popular.CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race 14-3-_0221

We walked around watching the mushers get their teams ready for the race.CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race 14-3-_0261

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Since there was a much smaller crowd for the start of the second leg we were able to move about freely taking photos and watching the progress of the race.CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race 14-3-_0262

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More photos from the CopperDog 150 can be found on my website.

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

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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.

This past weekend we were in Calumet, Michigan to watch the Copperdog150 Sled Dog Race. We spent most of Friday cross country skiing while we waited for the 7 p.m. start of the race. Bruce Magnusson was the winner of the of the race. He is shown here on his way into Copper Harbor.

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We arrived in downtown Calumet a couple of hours before the start of the race. Most of the mushers were feeding their dogs and laying out their gear prior to hooking up the dogs. Once the dogs are fed they are put back into their motel rooms until just before the start of the race.

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As the race neared we took up a position near the starting line across from the official starters station. It takes quite a few volunteers to get a dog team to the starting line. The dogs are excited and can easily drag the volunteers down the course. Once the command to go is given the dogs leap into action. In a number of cases some of the dogs were caught off guard and were dragged off of their feet by the other dogs.

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The next morning we drove over to Eagle Harbor for the start of the second stage of the race. Even though some of the dogs had been racing until past midnight they were ready to go again the next morning. We watched all of the teams head out for Copper Harbor. The plan was to ski around Eagle Harbor but the ski trail was in tough shape so we drove to Copper Harbor to watch the finish of the second stage of the race.

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There were free drinks and treats in the community center in Copper Harbor so we stopped by for some hot coco and treats. We wandered around town waiting for the dog teams to arrive. They seemed to be late in arriving so we ended up walking up the trail quite a ways. When they did arrive there was some stiff competition as they came down the hill into town. There were a few problems getting into town. The trail was being shared with snowmobiles and there were some sharp turns. The dogs were having problems figuring out where to go. We watched most of the teams arrive before heading back to Calumet.

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The final day of the race was a beautiful sunny day with minus degree temperatures. We decided to spend the morning skiing at Swedetown before returning to town to watch the finish of the race.

There was some stiff competition at the finish line. In one case there were three racers running close together. In another case two racers jumped off of their sleds and ran with their dogs to the finish line. As I mentioned it was a beautiful day. One racer crossed the finish line without a shirt on. As I recall he started out with ten dogs but only has six at the finish of the race so he probably had to work a little harder than some of the other racers.

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Several dogs must have been hurt on the race because they were riding in the sled when the racers finished. Once the racers finish the race they sometimes put their young children in the sled for the ride back to the truck. It was a weekend of cross country skiing and sled dog racing.

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More photos from the CopperDog 150 can be found on my website.