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 2015 through 2020, selected in collaboration with the UPSDA (UP200 & Midnight Run).
Official Race Dates:
- 2015: February 27 — March 1
- 2016: February 26 — 28
- 2017: March 3 — 5
- 2018: March 2 — 4
- 2019: March 1 — 3
- 2020: February 28 — March 1
past Asst. Race Director, Race Director
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.
Meredith in the Race Director seat the 2016 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.
Nathan Hanks grew up in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He served four with U.S. Marine Corps with 1STBN 8th Marine Bravo Co. and upon his return from service attended Eastern Michigan University. BS in English and Communications.
Nathan returned to the USMC in 2007 for Iraq deployment with 3/23 Kilo Co. and returning from his second deployment, graduated as a Harley Davidson Technician from MMI, Phoenix as well as attending Nursing School for 3 years.
Nathan enjoys four seasons outdoors, is a gumbo soup maker and has an annual crawfish boil! Nathan currently lives in Hancock and works as a Park Range at Isle Royal National Park.
Renee Cunningham, born and raised around Calumet, spend 20 years in the Detroit area before returning to the Keweenaw to help out with family.
She is a long-term and avid supporter of volunteering in the local community. A few of Renee's friends have described her as a "professional volunteer", although her day job is at the Houghton County Courthouse.
In 2011, Renee became instrumental to the success of "PJ Olsson's Rock Camp for Kids" (Renee and PJ Olsson) pictured to the right), where she worked closely with Todd Brassard, the camp's director. At the time, Todd was also the Race Director for a new community event call the "CopperDog 150". Todd wasted no time recruiting Renee for the CopperDog 150.
As of early 2016, Renee has been with the CopperDog 150 for 4 years. In the early days, Renee helped coordinate the opening ceremony and the start of the race, the big Friday night event that is the most popular high point of the weekend event.
Renee took on more responsibility joining the CopperDog Board of Directors in 2013 where she took on various roles typically related to communication, tasks and scheduling, and resource management.
In 2015, when the responsibilities of Race Director and Asst. Race Director were reorganized into "Race Director", "Community Director" and "Resource Director" by new board chair Brad King, Renee took on Resource Director.
Renee is married to Dan Cunningham. She enjoys hikes with my family during the warmer months, traveling with the family, reading and volunteering at my daughter Maryn’s school.
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 has been serving as CopperDog's Chief Veterinarian since our inaugural event in 2010.
Far more than just a race weekend official, Dr. Ladd is deeply involved with the CopperDog Board and Race Planning team throughout the year. Dr. Ladd brings expertise, passion, and a committment to excellence with dog safety, care and injury risk reduction.
Dr. Ladd goes above and beyond to create an amazing experience for his veterinary team spending lots of time working with race planners on major issues and small details; he is always looking to design better solutions, evolve, and press forward for better ideas.
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 a vital member of the CopperDog family, which is why we hug him!
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.
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!
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. She participates in many sled dog races including the Ironline, the UP200, and of course Copperdog. Last years race was a great experience and she would not miss it. 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!
Kris has been involved with sled dog racing since 2009, and this will be her 4th year as a member of the CopperDog Veterinary Team. 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. Kris works as a Certified Veterinary Technician at the Duluth Veterinary Hospital. Her race experience includes the UP200/Midnight Run , John Beargrease Sleddog Marathon, CopperDog 150, Apostle Islands, and Gichigami Express sled dog races. She has also run teams in the Ely WolfTrack Classic and the Mid-Minnesota races. Kris lives in Esko,Minnesota with her two teen-age daughters, a horse, 1 dog, 3 cats and a ferret.
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