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.
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!
The CopperDog Board of Directors pleased to announce official race dates from 2017 through 2020, selected in collaboration with the UPSDA (UP200 & Midnight Run).
Meredith LaBeau is the Process Engineering Manager with Calumet Electronics Corp., a leader in the manufacturing of high-performance printed circuit boards (PCBs). Meredith earned her PhD from Michigan Technological University researching future impacts of phosphorus on surface water quality in the Great Lakes Basin. Currently, she has been living in the Houghton/Hancock area for eight years with her husband Mike and daughter Cyra.
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 Copperdog 150 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. In 2015 Meredith took a more behind-the-scenes role management many of the technical aspects of planning race weekend. In 2016, Meredith came back on as race director.
Meredith is in the Race Director seat for the 2017 race, but this will likely be her last year taking on a lead role with CopperDog. After many years of contributing to the success of CopperDog, she has earned some time off which she will use to focus on growing Calumet Electronics and continuing adventures with her family.
Meredith avidly enjoys biking, running, hiking, and camping in the Keweenaw Peninsula and beyond.
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.
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.
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Kiko first arrived in the United States at age 15 in 1987 and the Copper Country in 1990 to attend Michigan Technological University… twice. Since then, the Copper Country has been home to this research engineer working for the department of civil & environmental engineering at his Alma matter.
A strongly believer in community involvement, hard-work, and parties, volunteering for the first CopperDog 150 was a no-brainer (being gently led to help with race timing however was a “no-brains”). But taking ownership and having a “whether you think you can or you can't, you're right” attitude, the first race was a feat and the second race better yet.
Kiko has contributed greatly to the integrity and professionalism of CopperDog by continually developing and evolving the philosophy and technology by official race timing. Kiko designed and continues to develop a timing application that leverages the latest Google Sheets technologies to accurately record start and finish times, calculate statistics and standings instantly, and communicate all data to a central database in real-time for officials and fans. Kiko's accomplishments with race timing are nothing short of amazing.
He has lived with dogs, cats, cows, horses, chickens, pigs, birds, some fish, an iguana, and a sheep. He is also good with numbers, pointing, and he can yell really loud. Kiko is strongly committed to making this regional event involving many peoples, cultures, and communities a sustainable success – he does not take his participation as Chief Timer and the race’s positive impact on local people and places lightly. To Kiko, a hopeless romantic, the CopperDog 150 brings the Copper Country alive as if it were a time machine going back to the thriving copper mining days of over 100 years ago.
Kiko lives with his wife and two kids in Calumet and the rest is history…or at least lots of snow. Look for him in his orange mining hat, light and all. Portuguese spoken.
Brad King, Chair
Walt Kiiskila, Treasurer
Renee Cunningham, Secretary
Meredith LaBeau, Board Member
Leah Polzien, Board Member
Doug Harrer, Board Member
Bethanne Riffer, Board Member
Dianne St. Amour, Board Member
Ken Stigers, Board Member
Rob Greenhoe, Board Member