Hey! Let’s organize a sled dog race!
That’s what a small group of people said in 2009, and from that initial idea the CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 sled dog races were born.
Both races usually run the first weekend in March. The CopperDog 150 features teams of ten dogs and covers 150 miles in three days, while the CopperDog 40 features teams of six dogs and covers approximately forty miles in one day. The CopperDog 150 caps at thirty teams and the CopperDog 40 caps at fifteen teams. Which means … the first weekend in March finds 350+ dogs racing through Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.
The CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 are organized by CopperDog, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization located in Calumet, Michigan, a small town in the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula – a narrow finger of land on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that juts into the middle of Lake Superior. With an average annual snowfall of 241 inches it’s the perfect place for … well, a sled dog race.
Since its beginning the CopperDog races have attracted mushers from around the world. While many mushers come from the Midwest, each race usually has several Canadian mushers competing – and in 2011 and 2012 a musher from South Africa competed.
CopperDog is definitely a labor of love. It is an entirely volunteer operation, with more than 500 volunteers helping to put the race on. Local residents help mushers with their dogs, provide housing, and oversee trail crossings. Local police and fire departments volunteer their time to man all highway crossings and ensure the safety of all volunteers and participants. On its business end, CopperDog, Inc. is run by an unpaid volunteer board of directors.
CopperDog is more than just two sled dog races. In addition to promoting community vitality through sled dog racing, CopperDog strives to provide education on the history and sport of sled dog racing. Numerous public events – such as classroom visits, volunteer training, “Meet the Dogs” events, and free sled dog rides - are held throughout the year.
CopperDog is always looking for new volunteers. If you’d like to work with a great group of people and be part of one of the MOST FUN winter events you’ll ever see, please contact us. We can’t do it without you!
To develop charitable, educational and benevolent activities dedicated to the enrichment, development, and vitality of communities, natural resources and trail systems in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula through world-class events, creating informational and educational opportunities, encouraging national recognition, specifically with respect to advancing national and international sled dog sports including sled dog racing and an understanding of the historic role of sled dogs in a natural environment.
past Asst. Race Director & Calumet Director
Doug Harrer, a native of the Keweenaw, lives in Calumet. Doug spends much of his typical day traveling the Upper Peninsula as a Driver and Sales Rep. for Ferrellgas and has also served as a Trustee of the Calumet Village since 2006.
As the concept for the CopperDog 150 was first coming together, the Calumet Village Council was asked to provide a representative to sit on the CopperDog Board. Feeling that the proposed event would be a good opportunity for Calumet businesses during a typically slow time of year, Doug volunteered and became involved.
As Doug learned the basics of mushing and helped in the planning of the inaugural event, his interest and enthusiasm grew. Using his many years of experience as Inventory Manager at Somero, Doug managed the race's apparel, merchandise, and sales, which raises much needed funds for the event. Doug moved on to managing musher parking and was a "Calumet Hooker" (the person that pulls a musher's snow-hook off the cable at the Calumet starting shoot) at the first race.
After experiencing the thrill and excitement of the event, Doug became very passionate about the sport and was ready to get more involved. Later in 2010 Doug went on to be the clear choice to Chair the CopperDog 150 board. Doug's balance of insight, experience and even temperament made him the perfect person to bring together the many different people and personalities that make up the Board. Doug also served as Asst. Race Director at the second CopperDog 150 event in March of 2011.
In mid 2011 Doug served a key roll in establishing policy and procedures designed to make the CopperDog 150 successful and sustainable for many years to come. With many fresh faces on the Board, Doug was re-elected as Chair and worked to establish the various committees to better distribute the immense work load of planning the epic sled-dog racing weekend.
Doug believes that between the beautiful terrain of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the dedication of mushers to their sport, and the ongoing support of local business, the CopperDog 150 will be one of the most prestigious sled-dog races in the Midwest. Doug is honored and humbled to say he's been a part of the adventure since day one.
past Asst. Race Director, Sponsorship Director & Vice Chair
Abbey Green calls Calumet her home and just a few blocks away you will find her studio on 5th Street in downtown Calumet. Abbey is a stained glass artist and proprietor of abbey art glass studio, she specializes in custom commission stained glass works and the historic restoration of old panels. As a downtown business owner and a CopperDog 150 Trailblazer, Abbey believes strongly in the community and wants to see it flourish and grow.
Abbey was introduced to the CopperDog 150 in 2009 when she became a Trailblazer, one of a select group of forward thinking businesses and individuals who provided the initial funding that launched the first CopperDog 150 event. Enthused by her love of canines and being friends with local mushers Truman Obermeyer and Jerry Trudell, she was inspired to create limited edition collectible copper glass paws etched with the CopperDog logo for the first race. Abbey would go on in future years to not only make more collectibles, but to design and make awards for the 2011 race winners.
Abbey volunteered her time during the race weekend and helped out with musher bag checks, selling t-shirts, and helped reorganize and deploy our volunteer army when our U.P. weather became uncharacteristically warm in 2010. She found the experience very rewarding and decided to get more involved.
In 2010, Abbey made it clear to the CopperDog board that they needed to reach out and engage more people like herself who wanted to get involved in the early planning process. A few short weeks (perhaps days) later, Abbey found herself in the middle of the planning process using her seemingly endless energy and ideas to make short work of problems. Abbey produced all of the badges worn by race staff and most importantly, working with her husband Chris Green, produced all of the trail signs the mushers rely upon to safely navigate the race course. Chris Green, an Engineer at the Keweenaw Research Center and Abbey's husband of 30 years, took on the challenge of setting up hundreds of the signs on 100 miles of trail the day before the race.
In mid 2010, Abbey was nominated for a position on the Board. Winning a seat, Abbey immediately took on the key roles of Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of the Sponsorship Committee, and Asst. Race Director along with Meredith LaBeau (after a little arm twisting from Todd). When Abbey first made a donation, as a Trailblazer, to do something good for downtown Calumet she had no idea about her coming addiction to sled dog racing, the fun, excitement, good times and amazing people, who all come together to celebrate the extraordinary Keweenaw.
Abbey spends her free time working with her husband on restoring an 1880's home, a small mansion really, that had been unoccupied and boarded-up for 25 years. After a decade of hard work and dedication,
the 17 room Stick Style Victorian house project is now their home. A home that includes Tate, their well behaved; some would say highly trained, spirited young German Shepherd who loves the winter and wishes he had the stamina to be a sled dog.
Lesley started as a CopperDog volunteer during its first year. She got hooked on how fun it was, has continued to volunteer every year, and has been a board member for the past two years.
Lesley brings writing and financial skills to the CopperDog board. She is an award winning children’s book author with more than two dozen published books in print, from publishers such as Grolier, Scholastic, Macmillan, Houghton Mifflin, and others. She is also the former PR Director for Neutrogena Soap and continues to do freelance advertising and PR work for clients such as the Chicago Bulls, Nature’s Way vitamins, Robert Jarvik(the inventor of the artificial heart), Great Northern Outfitters (sponsors of the Iditarod), and numerous others.
Her financial skills stem from several years of public accounting work with the international CPA firm Deloitte Touche, where she specialized in multinational corporate tax and non profits.
A native of the Keweenaw Peninsula and Chicago, Lesley attended college and grad school in California. She now lives in Eagle River year round with her husband, two children who show up during college breaks, a dog, a cat, and visiting wild animals too numerous to count.
past Asst. Race Director
Meredith LaBeau is a PhD from Michigan Technological University researching future impacts of phosphorus on surface water quality in the Great Lakes Basin. Now she has joined Todd's team at Calumet Electronics. Originally from Lansing, Meredith has lived in a variety of places working on environmental remediation and education.
Currently, she has been living in the Houghton/Hancock area for six years with her family, which includes a loveable, stubborn 150lb Alaskan Malamute, Laukki.
In 2011, Meredith became involved in the CopperDog 150 through a friend that played an active role in sponsorship and banners. Meredith has always loved dogs, as her house door says “Every dog has his day (English)”, therefore volunteering with the Copperdog150 was a natural fit.
Meredith stepped up her contributions in 2011/2012 taking on the duties of Asst. Race Director taking very active roles in key areas of planning the 2012 race. The combination of Meredith's insight, drive, and focus on doing "the right thing" made her a perfect candidate for Race Director going into 2013/2014 season. In August, 2013 Meredith was voted into the Race Director position for the 2014 race.
Besides research and volunteering, she avidly enjoys biking, running, hiking, and camping in the Keweenaw Peninsula and beyond. She is extremely excited to be Race Director this year!
Come on snow and bring on the dogs!
past Bag Check Coordinator
Kim Pici became hooked on the CopperDog 150 after working a single volunteer dog handling shift in Eagle Harbor during the 2011 race. When that shift was over, she found herself sticking around for the rest of the weekend right up to assisting dog-teams at the Calumet finish line.
Kim is the Diagnostic Imaging Supervisor at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital where she learned about the CopperDog 150 through Amy Harrer, the wife of Doug Harrer, Chair of the CopperDog 150 Board. Doug and Kim spoke about the CopperDog at length and Kim's involvement grew from there with Kim taking a lead roll as Bag Check Coordinator at the 2011 race.
Kim's hard work and dedication to CopperDog earned her an invitation to join the CopperDog Board of Directors in mid-2012. For the 2014 race, Kim has taken on the Asst. Race Director position and Checkpoints Director and looks forward to planning the CopperDog 150 with Meredith LaBeau and Abbey Green.
Kim admits to being a novice with race affairs but is excited about learning all the various aspects of the sport of mushing, learning more about race planning, and serving the community. Kim is originally from downstate and CopperDog is the first really great fit she has found for herself since moving into the area 10 years earlier.
Kim, like most CopperDog volunteers, is a huge dog lover.
past Exceutive Director & Race Director
Todd Brassard is a computer programmer at Calumet Electronics, a printed circuit board manufacturing company, and owner, along side his wife Jessie, of Brassard Media, a video production and web design business. Todd was introduced to the sport of mushing when he was recruited to produce a promotional video for Brewery Creek Racing, a kennel operated by musher Truman Obermeyer.
As many do, Todd fell victim to charm of the dogs and the beauty of the sport. When he learned of a sled-dog race being organized for the Keweenaw, he volunteered his services (web programming) and his wife's talent (graphic design) and put together a web site for the event (www.copperdog150.com).
Todd was asked to join the Board of Directors and soon found himself working very closely with the CopperDog 150's founding Race Director, Brian Tiura. Tiura was an inspiring leader for Todd who taught him the ins and outs of mushing and sled-dog racing. Although the first annual event was extremely demanding on everyone's time and energy, Todd very much enjoyed the payoff of a great event despite tough weather conditions.
When the Brian Tiura and family moved to Alaska, Todd was left in the unexpected position of knowing more than most about organizing and planning the CopperDog 150. Seeing few options, Todd was nervous and excited to take on the role of Race Director. In this new role he imparted what he had learned from Brian, introduced some of his own ideas, and worked closely with other people like himself who really loved the event. With so many good people pulling together, the second annual CopperDog 150 was a great success, especially with the favorable weather conditions.
With one race under his belt, an amazing core planning team, and growing community buy-in, Todd focused on upping the "production value" of the CopperDog 150 in 2011/2012 by planning an ESPN worthy Friday night start, improving hospitality for the growing numbers of fans, and setting a more relaxed schedule for mushers and their dog teams. He also used is program skills to great an online volunteer registration system to make it easier for the volunteers to get involved on race weekend. Todd worked closely with Asst. Race Director Meredith LaBaue who would move on to assume the Race Director position.
In August of 2012, the CopperDog Club became CopperDog, Inc., its own 501(C)3 non-profit organization and assume the position of Executive Director as part of the reorganization. Todd continues to work very closely with the race planning committee, but is also focusing other non-race activities that will help grow and sustain the CopperDog 150.
Todd motto is "Happy healthy dogs, happy healthy mushers!"
Brian grew up in Oskar Bay area and graduated from Houghton High School in 1996. He then moved downstate and attended Grand Valley State University, earning a BBA in Finance in 2001 and an MBA in 2010.
After 16 years in Grand Rapids, Brian was excited to take a job as Branch Manger with River Valley Bank in Calumet, allowing him to finally come home to the Copper Country. River Valley bank has been a supporter of the Copper Dog since the inaugural race, so it was probably inevitable that Brian would become involved. He chose to dive right in and fill a big hole left when real world obligations pulled Brad King out of the Volunteer Director’s chair.
Brian brings plenty of event planning experience to the Copper Dog team. During his years in Grand Rapids he was an active volunteer with the Grand Rapids Jaycees, including two terms on the Board of Directors. Brian served three stints as Operations Director for the Grand Rapids Jaycees Santa Parade, which draws upwards of 25,000 spectators each year.
Brian and his wife, Darcy Millon, are excited to back in the U.P., where winter is truly winter. “The best way to fight off the winter doldrums is to just embrace the weather and enjoy it” he says. The CopperDog150 will provide him just such an outlet.
Pete Curtice is a has been involved with the sled dogs for about 17 years, but Pete was actually pulled into the sport by his wife Sharon. In the early days, Pete started out by helping his wife performer her responsibilities at the first UP 200.
It didn't take long, however, before Pete was bitten by the mushing bug and found himself competing in short-mid to mid-distance races in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota regions. A few years later, Pete started his own kennel and committed to the "madness" mostly in compliance to Sharon's persistence. Pete has had his fair share of first place finishes in races like the UP200, Midnight Run, Apostle Islands, and the Wilderness run.
At the start of each season, Pete and Sharon would pick their races, one would run the race and the other would handle. When the both ran teams Sharon usually took out their main team. When Pete is not caring for dogs, he is raising three lovely children, and is employed as a sheet metal worker.
Pete is thrilled to have been asked to be the Race Marshal at the CopperDog 150 and looks forward to the "intense mini vacation" every year.
Pete has also earned the respect and gratitude of the CopperDog 150 in 2009 by accepting the position of Race Marshal at their inaugural race. As weather conditions fell apart, trails vanished overnight, vets grew concerned about rising the temperature, and mushers were animated and polarized on weather the race should continue or be finished, all eyes turned to Pete as Race Marshall. Pete came through for the CD150 in that first year and in 2010 he provided the leadership the CD150 needed to adapt and be a great race. The CopperDog 150 is very pleased to have Pete back as Race Marshall.
Sharon Nelson-Curtice has been involved in the world of sled dogs for over 20 years and has owned her own dogs for the past 17 years. Sharon has experienced great success running short-mid to mid-distances races in the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota regions.
As a young girl, Sharon's dream was to have her own sled dog kennel and she made her first steps towards that dream by getting involved with the first UP 200 race. To her delight, Sharon became involved with a sled dog kennel and began racing teams. Three years after starting her involvement with the UP 200 and pulling her husband Pete into the sport, she own her own kennel, her dream had come true.
Sharon went on to have a very competitive kennel taking her share of first place prizes competing in the Tahquamenon, Midnight Run, Apostle Islands and Pellston Icebox. She also placed 2nd in the Beargrease 150, 5th in the UP 200, and had many other top finishes in her carrier. Although Sharon is no longer racing competitively, she still keeps a handful of dogs that keep her life and her children busy. Sharon works as a physical therapist assistant and home schools her three children.
Sharon was invited by the CopperDog 150 in 2009 to be a Race Judge at their first race and was invited back in 2010. Sharon serves double duty at the CopperDog 150, working as both race judge and teacher, sharing her knowledge, experience and insight with CopperDog 150 planners, officials, and volunteers. Sharon's warm and friendly personality, keen insight, and calming disposition during hectic situations makes Sharon an ideal Race Judge for the CopperDog 150.
Sharon looks forward each year to judging at the CopperDog 150, spending time with good friends, and working for a great, fun race organization.
Dr. Ladd is a 1987 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. He is the owner of Keweenaw Veterinary Clinic near Chassell, MI.
He has participated in sled dog medicine and races since 1990, to include the Beargrease, UP-200, Empire, Iditarod, and served as the first chief veterinarian in the inaugural CopperDog 150 in 2010.
He is a member of the ISDVMA.
Dr. Ladd has worked closely with planners of the CopperDog 150 providing valuable insights on how to run dog-friendly events build excellent dog-care into events.
Dr. Ladd looks forward to returning to the 5th running of the CopperDog 150.
Jean Wilcox is a '94 graduate of Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
She has been involved in the UP sled dog races as a vet since 1995...she really likes the green parka!
Her interests beyond vet work include her biking, beading, horses, bird hunting with her spectacular dogs and wilderness trips to canoe and camp with her husband, Burt and appropriate critters when allowed.
Tom is a co-owner of the Thompson Veterinary Clinic in Manistique, MI since 1994. He grew up in Escanaba and
graduated from the Escanaba Area High School. Tom received his DVM degree from
Michigan State University during the latter part of the 20th century. In 2002, he completed training and received
certification in Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy from the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, WI. and incorporates animal chiropractic into his mixed animal practice.Tom is also presently an instructor at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center.
Tom became interested in sled dog medicine and races in 1994. Since then he has been involved as a race veterinarian in various capacities. Races he has been involved with include the CopperDog 150, UP 200 and Midnight Run, Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, Seney 300, John Beargrease, Great Trails Sled Dog Race, and GM Classic. Tom is also a member of the ISDVMA.
On the home front, Tom is kept busy with 4 kids and their activities, and numerous critters.His hobbies include cross
country skiing, bicycling, and building stuff.
Dr. Kendra Carlson is a 2003 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation Dr. Carlson completed a small animal medicine, surgery, and emergency/critical care internship at the University of Minnesota .
Dr. Carlson is an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoys kayaking, hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and camping.
When she adopted her first husky cross it was only natural she tries skijoring, which led to an interest in sled dog sports. She has worked as a trail veterinarian on the UP200 and the Percy DeWolf sled dog races for the past two years and is hooked! Dr. Carlson is a member of the ISDVMA and has attended the annual conference as well as the Iditarod pre-race workshop.
For the past 3 years Dr. Carlson has done full time emergency/critical care medicine at the Fox Valley Animal Referral Center in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Her primary veterinary interests include sports medicine, emergency/ critical care, infectious disease, and toxicology. She shares her home with her skijoring partner, Abby (a Husky-shepherd cross) and two cranky cats.
As a graduate of the charter class at University of Wisconsin Madison School of Veterinary Medicine in 1987, Barb Korte has enjoyed a long career as a small animal veterinarian. She worked as a relief veterinarian for the past 13 years and travels to clinics from her home base in Sparta, Wisconsin, in the southwestern part of the state near La Crosse. Having had the privilege of helping her fellow veterinarians with seven of the past ten UP 200 races, she looks forward to returning to Marquette again this February for the 2013 UP 200. Working the Copperdog 150 for the first time provides a chance to renew friendships and make new ones - two legged and four legged alike.
Karen Mallum has been chasing sled dog teams around the U.P. since 2000, when Dr. Tom Gustafson first recruited her to be part of the U.P. 200 veterinary team. She lives in Ironwood, Michigan, with her amazingly tolerant husband, and owns Lake Road Veterinary Clinic. Her favorite four letter word is S-N-O-W!
Kris has been involved with sled dog racing since 2009, and is very excited about joining the Veterinary Team for the Copperdog 150. She holds an Associate of Veterinary Technology degree and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Kris is an Iraqi Freedom Veteran and retired from the Minnesota Air National Guard after serving for 21 years. Her Veterinary experience includes shelter medicine, working on a mobile surgical unit, emergency medicine, small animal practice, as well as rural area veterinary trips to help the less fortunate. She has worked the UP200/Midnight run and Gichigami Express sled dog races. Kris lives in Esko, Minnesota with her husband, two teen-age daughters, 3 horses, 4 dogs, 4 cats and a ferret. In her spare time, she loves to compete in endurance/competitive riding with her horses, camping, trap shooting, golf and watching her daughters compete in hockey and soccer.
Beckie Kilvington has been a Certified Veterinary Technician since 1998 and a equine/canine massage therapist since 2011. Her love of sled dogs started in 2005 with a chance to volunteer at the John Beargrease Marathon, she's been hooked ever since! She is involved with the John Beargrease, Apostle Island, UP200/Midnight Run and the Copper Dog. She also was involved with the inaugural year for both the Gichigami Express and The Iron Line Sled Dog races in 2013. Her love of the sport and the amazing canine athletes led her to organize the Midwest Sled Dog Veterinary Symposium in 2012 with the help of Dr. Jerry Vanek. With its success in 2012 it will be held on a yearly basis to help promote the health and well being for sled dogs and to further the education of the veterinary professionals, vet students and mushers. In the off season she enjoys endurance and trail riding with her horses, camping and planning for the next sled dog season!
Meghan Marks has been involved with Sled dogs since 2000. After many trips to Alaska and Canada to help care for dogs during races and working on research projects, she is more content to stay closer to home these days. 2013 season will bring the excitement of a new race, the Ironline, the UP200, and of course her second Copperdog. Last years race was a great experience and she would not miss it....even after yet another knee surgery in Sept. The Copperdog is a top dog race and she is honored to be a part of it.
Back home Meghan works in human medicine now, but along with sled dogs she helps with spay and neuter clinics through out the year. Meghan has 2 cats and 2 sassy terriers that keep her and hubby busy. Dog park visits and going for wings are their favorite activities.
Meghan is excited to help mushers and dogs in another great racing season!
Ms. Chris Schriever just took on a new role as an Equipment Specialist and Territory Sales Representative with Midwest Veterinary Supply. Prior too this position she was the Hospital Manager and head Certified Veterinary Technician for two 24 hour emergency hospitals and a Specialty Referral Center in the Madison, Wisconsin area. In her spare time she loves spending time with her 15.5 year old husky, gardening, and playing in the snow. Chris graduated from Iowa State University with a BS degree and she also holds an associate’s degree from Argosy University. She has been a veterinary technician since 1998 and a member of the John Beargrease Veterinary Team since 2001. She has also worked the Solon Springs and Apostle Island sled dog races
My name is Keri Mahoney and I am excited to participate in my third year working on a vet team for a
dog sled race and my second year at the CopperDog 150. The 2011UP200 was my first
experience being a veterinary assistant on the Vet Team and I loved it.
I enjoy being outside and my usual hobbies include summer adventures of
trail riding with my horse, camping and kayaking, so being able to
offer some hands-on help to Veterinary team is a real joy for me.
I've always enjoyed watching the sled dog races, and as a child my
parents brought me to the races in the Escanaba area, so getting to help
with the behind-the-scenes workings has been very educational. For the
last two years have been employed at the Gwinn-Sawyer Veterinary Clinic;
where I have learned that being employed by Dr. Wilcox means being a
dedicated worker and having a lot of fun... like working in the UP200
CopperDog 150, and new this year the Iron Line Race!
I graduated from Bay de Noc in 2003 with my Associates of Science and
continued on at Northern Michigan University. Now I live in Rock,
Michigan with my husband, Mike,three felines and one canine companion.
I have been a veterinary assistant for 6 years.Being from the Upper
Peninsula, I enjoy all seasons, but having a new reason to enjoy winter
is even better. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, kayaking, riding my horse, and camping
Kathleen Neshek is a third year veterinary student at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She has a strong interest in endurance sports of all kinds and in a variety of species. Kathleen became interested and involved in sled dog medicine through the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and a shared interest with her dad.
In her veterinary career Kathleen has a strong interest in pathology, wildlife and infectious disease and in her personal life she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, climbing and camping. She has an American Water Spaniel named Dove and a cat named Ptarmigan. Kathleen is excited to be a part of the CopperDog and hope to continue working in sled dog medicine after I graduate veterinary school!