Mushers for this year’s Copper Dog need to register by Sunday, February 27th. Entrance fees start at $125. The races are the following weekend, with the 150 mile event beginning in Calumet on Friday, March 4th. There are three different distances in which mushers can enroll; the 150, 80, and 25 (all actual distances are shorter than what they are billed). The longer race can utilize a pool of up to ten dogs over three days. The shortest race allows for six dogs. Each category can have as many as 25 teams take part, with a majority of the slots taken already.
Copper Dog is set for the same weekend as the beginning of the Iditarod race, the gold standard for mushing. It gets scheduled two weeks after the UP 200, an Iditarod qualifier itself. Organizer Doug Harrer says that if the races are too close together than it could potentially become a health hazard for the animals running.
Copper Dog fills a niche as a participant friendly event. Dogs and mushers are introduced by Houghton Community Broadcasting’s Todd VanDyke on Friday evening at the start of the race in downtown Calumet, getting their own walkup music as they leave the opening gate. Harrer told Copper Country Today last month that personal service was the key to growing the event since its inception in 2009. This year’s purse is $30,000.