CopperDog 150 race volunteers receive last-minute training

This upcoming weekend will make the beginning of the CopperDog 150 race, and final preparations are being made this week. The final volunteer training session was held this weekend, and ABC 10 Keweenaw Bureau reporter Sam Ali was there.

With less than a week left until the start of the CopperDog 150, a large crowd gathered inside Calumet High School for a training session this past weekend. Members of the CopperDog organization provided rules, advice and proper protocol for all the volunteers. Among those were how to make certain signals to a musher and how to stop a sled if needed.

Event organizer Kim Pici says they pride themselves on preaching safety first, and she says that’s the purpose of these sessions. “We’ll be able to direct you on what to do,” Pici said. “We’re going to tell you what to do in CopperDog language, what we think a volunteer needs to know. But ultimately, the musher will guide you. If you’re here handling dogs, the musher will tell you if he needs help handling his dogs.”

Pici added that volunteer numbers are great for this year, which is good news for musher Tom Bauer. After the presentation, he took a group of the volunteers out to get hands-on experience with dogsleds. He said the CopperDog is a staged race, which leads to more time between stops and makes the race different from others.

“There’s more recovery after a 50-mile run in a staged race, and it gives spectators a lot more of a chance to hang out with the mushers because they stop for the evening and hang out with people at the place they’ve raced to,” Bauer said.

Bauer has been a musher for more than 20 years but he says there are always concerns he might have before a race, with weather being one for this year. “The dogs naturally like to go real fast, but you have to be more careful of protecting yourself from frostbite because at 12 below, there’s quite a wind chill factor when you’re running at 12 to 15 miles per hour with the dogs,” said Bauer.

Opening ceremonies for the CopperDog 150 will begin Friday night at 6:30 at the corner of Scott & 5th Street in Calumet, with the race itself starting at 7:00.