CALUMET — Once again, downtown Calumet buzzed with excitement as the seventh annual CopperDog 150 came to a close.
The race consists of three days and three legs totaling just over 125 miles. Last year’s champion, Dennis LaBoda, stayed in the lead for the first two legs but was followed closely by Martha Schouweiler. As LaBoda approached the finish line, crowds cheered and he realized he could be bringing home his second CopperDog 150 title.
LaBoda said, “A lot of these people… Well they’re all my friends. So, I’m on the trail with some of my friends and they’re having a good race and I’m having a good race. It gets a little emotional and, you know, I really try not to think about what my position is in the race until I cross it. And then I’m kinda like ‘Woah, it seems like maybe we just won this race.'”
LaBoda is the first two-time CopperDog 150 Champion. Martha Schouweiler took second place for the weekend and Frank Moe followed in 3rd place. All race standings and details are available on the CopperDog website.
Some locals were worried about the unusually warm weather having an impact on the trails and the dogs, but LaBoda says his dogs didn’t mind.
LaBoda said, “The dogs are used to all kinds of weather lately because we’ve had such varying conditions. So, the warm weather was fine. We were out west in some racing in Wyoming and Montana with warm weather out there as well before we came here. So, my dogs were used to that.”
The annual event draws in a crowd from across the country. The furthest traveling musher this year is Thad McCraken from Portland, Oregon. Some volunteers and bystanders drive long distances just for the love of the sport. Charles Painchaud from Indianapolis, Indiana says this is his first trip to the U.P.
Painchaud said, “I don’t’ know any of the competitors or the local people, but I do some dog-sled racing back home in Indianapolis with my 3 dogs. So the chance to come and see something done professionally is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”
As the crowds begin to clear, we say goodbye to our cross-country guests; hoping they’ll join us for next year’s CopperDog 150.