CALUMET — They say to let sleeping dogs lie and if they ran in this weekend’s CopperDog 150 or 40 they deserve the rest.
Four hundred sled dogs hit the trails Friday night racing in the single stage 40 mile race or the grueling three–stage run that took the mushers to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula and back to where the race began in Calumet.
Race Director Kim Pici said things got off on the right paw Friday and continued through the entire weekend.
“I think everything—the volunteers, the weather, the trail,” Pici said. “We spend weeks and weeks with KTS and our trail crew and all the people that we sit here and talk about it. And the other good thing is, I’ve talked to many snowmobilers and they’ve been awesome this weekend. All of them know about the dogs on the trail, they’ve seen them. The etiquette on the trail, if you want to call it, has been fantastic. So, we’ve got a lot of people that helped put this together and make it a success.”
And the word from the trails was things were going smoothly.
“I have not had one person say, ‘I am never doing this again!’ People are excited—they’re glad to be back,” Pici said. ” I’ve had two people that have mushers that they’re handlers for and they came this very first race they’ve been to of ours and they said, ‘Wow, we’re impressed so far!’ So, that’s a good for the CopperDog family to hear.”
Things definitely went smoothly for Minnesota resident and 2015 CopperDog 150 Champion Dennis LaBoda who’s third stage surge was enough to pass two teams that started the day ahead of him.
“I’ve been racing for forty years and I’ve come in last and I’ve come in first and I love racing and I came here with the idea if we can be in the top five we would be happy,” LaBoda said. “There’s a bunch of great racers here.”
Of course the mushers have to work hard but in the end it’s the dogs that deserve the credit.
“My dogs are beautiful,” LaBoda said. “They’re healthy, happy, eating and running great. Jester and Rhea are my top leaders of the moment. That can change but these dogs have been racing this year and just doing great. This was a great trail throughout the race. We left here Friday night in the moonlight and on a nice fast trail, you get three good runs and we’ve had a few good ones in this race.”
In the minds of veteran mushers like Dennis LaBoda the CopperDog can no longer be considered an up–and–coming sled dog race.
After 6 years this race has solidified its spot among the top races in the sport.
“The CopperDog at the moment is one of the premiere races in the lower forty–eight, in North America,” LaBoda said. ” It’s just come together so well and it’s such a great location to be doing it and to create a history of sled dog racing here is just an awesome thing.”
In the CopperDog 150 Al Borak finished in 2nd Place with last year’s champion Jake Golton coming in 3rd.
In the CopperDog 40 on Friday defending champion Matt Sturmer was again the winner with Chad Schouweiler 2nd and Lynne Witte coming in 3rd.