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Aspirus applauds every group and every person who steps up to volunteer to help others and our community overall. That is why Aspirus is very proud to be the Official Volunteer Sponsor of the CopperDog!

With over 1,500 volunteers annually, the event is a standing example of what a community can do when people come together to make great things happen. Without the efforts and spirit of the volunteers, the CopperDog would simply not take place.

Way to go volunteers!

Dave Olsson
UP Regional Marketing Lead


Volunteer Now for the 2016 CopperDog 150!


Volunteer registration is now open or the 2016 CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 sled dog races this coming Feb 26 - 28, 2015.  There are literally hundreds of shifts and positions to fill and we need your help.  Interested?  Just take a look at the 2016 Volunteer Schedule, find something that suites your liking and click sign-up for as many shifts as you want.  If you do a lot of volunteer, please watch out for overlap conflicts in your schedule.

Register a Couple, Group, Team, etc.

When you register more than just yourself for a volunteer shift, you become responsible to bring all of the people you indicated.  Kids age 14 and over are considered able bodied volunteers, but there must be at least one adult (18+) on each shift.  Kids 13 and younger are welcome to volunteer, but do not count towards the minimum number of volunteers that must be present. Volunteering is fun for the entire family, we just need to make sure that our bases or covered to provide a safe event for all.

Buggy Wuggy

Our volunteer system is a home brew and can be a little buggy from time to time.  Please let us know if this happens to you, if the system doesn't work as expect, or you just have ideas on how to improve it.  Send an e-mail to Todd Brassard with a description of the problem.  Cut and paste the error if you can.

Are You a Newbie?

Volunteering for CopperDog is ridiculously easy!  And working a shift or three CopperDog weekend is a lot of fun.  Please just thousands of people who have discovered that volunteer is the best way to experience CopperDog weekend!  And THANK YOU for the help!

posted on 12/12/2014 7:00 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

2016 Volunteer Guide to Road Crossings

Click to view Volunteer Guide to Road Crossings.

posted on 2/22/2016 9:13 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Why Volunteer for CopperDog?

The absolute best way to experience the magic of CopperDog is to volunteer. There is nothing quite like volunteering for a sled-dog race. These events are huge, taking a year to plan and requiring over 450 volunteers to staff more than 1100 shifts over 140 miles of trail. The best part is ANYBODY can do it! We have a wide range of jobs that you can help with and we can match your job to your interests and physical abilities.

It’s fun to meet the mushers, to work with the dogs (or not … there are plenty of non-dog opportunities for volunteering), and to participate in an event that involves the entire Keweenaw Peninsula. This is your chance to do something different. And it IS different, it IS unique. Very few people in the world ever get an opportunity to witness a major sled dog race, let alone participate in one. You can do both!

Types of Volunteering

  • Work Shifts Race Weekend - There are literally a thousand opportunities to work CopperDog over race weekend. Jobs like vet checks, registration, meal prep & cleanup, fencing, signing, bag checks, timing, dog handling, crossing guard, crowd control, radio operator, bib checker, crossing coordinator, safety, and more.

  • Lead Volunteer - Ready to learn more about the inner workings of CopperDog? Become a lead volunteer and learn more about race operations, coordinate various aspects of the race and manage weekend volunteers.

  • Join a Committee - Events like the CopperDog 150 take 9 to 12 months to plan. We have various teams and committees each focusing on various aspects of the race. If you love CopperDog and what to get more involved, join a team.

  • Board of Directors - Everyone that sits on the CopperDog board is a person just like you. Board members care deeply about the community and believe that CopperDog promotes community pride and vitality.

Opportunities to Learn

  • Volunteer Training - Each year, about 1 to 2 weeks before race weekend. CopperDog hosts a volunteer training event for our army of volunteers. Volunteers are provided with the vital information they need to know when working for CopperDog. The sit-down session is followed by a hands-on session where volunteers get to work with a couple of 10-dog teams practicing dog handling.

  • Lead Volunteer Training - Each year, CopperDog hosts a couple of Lead Volunteer training sessions, where lead volunteers learn about race operations, dog fitness, problem resolution, etc. Lead volunteers are our sergeants in the field race weekend.

  • Crossing Guide - Download the Volunteer Guide to Road Crossings to learn more about handing dog teams coming into road crossings and general does and don'ts while on the trail.

The success of the CopperDog 150 would not be possible without volunteers like you. No matter what your skills are, we can use your help.

posted on 10/10/2014 1:00 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Video: 2012 Volunteer Training

Video by Mark Riutta of Defined Visuals (

The CopperDog 150 welcomes Mark Riutta of Defined Visuals to our official video crew.  Check out his first video produced for the CopperDog 150 - the 2012 Volunteer Training.  Excellent work! 

Please give the video a moment to load.

posted on 2/28/2012 12:00 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Race Route and Crossings Online

posted on 2/23/2015 11:35 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Lead Volunteer Program

The CopperDog 150 Lead Volunteer Program is intended for those people in the community who are interested in serving a larger and more important role on CopperDog weekend.  The volunteers who join this program will learn about the inner workings of sled-dog racing, learn new skills and the tools used to manage the CopperDog 150, and go on to play important leadership roles on race weekend.

Program goals

The goals of the are simple but important to the evolution of the CopperDog races:

  • To recruit enthusiastic CopperDog volunteers
  • To educate volunteers on the inner workings of the race and provide them with the information, tools, and insight necessary to serve in leads roles on race weekend
  • To conduct two 1.5 hour training sessions during the months prior to race weekend.
  • Choose assignments early for lead volunteers to give them time to make their own plans
  • For lead-volunteers to play very active roles with logistic, resources, and people management

Who should join this program?

Become a lead-volunteer because...

  • You love CopperDog and want to be a huge part of the events success
  • You aren't ready to join a committee but would like to give a little more time to the event
  • You are willing to commit to 6-10 hours of your time over 2 months to become a leader
  • You want to learn more about how the CopperDog is organized and executed
  • You want the insight, information, and tools to be a great leader during the race.

How do I get involved?

That's easy... just write to Todd Brassard at to express your interest.  Prefer using the phone, just call 906-370-9972.  Call to sign-up or for more information.

When do things get moving?

Now!  We are actively seeking to start building our team of lead-volunteers.  We need your help.  Th CopperDog 150 is an amazingly unique and fun experience.  Get involved today!

posted on 10/10/2014 1:00 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

2015/2016 "Adobt-a-Musher" Host Families Wanted

CopperDog is seeking people who are interested in hosting a musher and their team for one or two nights and connecting them with mushers who need a place to park their vehicles and a warm/dry place to rest.  This is the second year for this exciting program.

When are host families needed?

  • Thursday, Feb 26 – Within 45 miles of Calumet
  • Friday, Feb 27 – Within 45 miles of Eagle Harbor
  • Saturday, Feb 28 – Within 45 miles of Copper Harbor
  • Sunday, March 3 – Within 45 miles of Calumet

What do host families provide?

  • Provide a quiet place for mushers and handlers to sleep
  • A safe place to park their truck so they can feed and care for their dogs.
  • Providing a meal is optional, but a nice touch

What can host families expect?

  • Dogs sleep in the truck and are not allowed to run free
  • Dogs may bark and may make noise
  • Mushers may arrive late and depart early

How do I get involved?

If you are interested in being a host family or if you are a race team in need of a host family, or just want more information about the program, please contact Ann Linja,our Host Family Coordinator at

Many great friendships are formed when hosting a team.  It’s a great opportunity for a host family to learn about mushing and how these amazing athletic dogs are cared for.  The host family also ends up with a team to cheer on in the race.

posted on 10/10/2014 1:00 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

2016 Food Vendors Wanted

If you are a food vendor, CopperDog wants you ... and your food! (We want you even if you're not a food vendor, but that's another issue.)

CopperDog is currently accepting food vendor applications for the Friday night (Friday, February 27, 2015) race start event. That Friday night, thousands of people will converge on historic downtown Calumet, all of them wanting food and drinks. Last year nearly 5000 people attended the race start. This year we are expecting 4000 - 6000 people. We want those people to come hungry and to be able to get some food while they watch the race.

CopperDog is not just about sled dogs. It's about community involvement and vitality. It's about creating a great event that brings people together. Having food and drinks available is part of this vision. And the better the entire vendor program, the better the individual success of each vendor.

To ensure that spectators and vendors have a good experience CopperDog is introducing a Vendor Facilitation Program. Our goal is to identify great locations for vendors to set up shop, with easy access to for spectators. Power will be provided, and CopperDog will coordinate with vendors to avoid duplication of menus. CopperDog will advertise and promote vendor menus and provide location maps to the public. We will also be campaigning for people to come early, come hungry, and have dinner downtown during the race start. And we will work to retain a balance between downtown Calumet restaurants and vendor services.

For more information, and to fill out an application, please contact Renee Cunningham at To see a copy of the application Please click here.

posted on by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Why I Volunteer for the CopperDog 150 by JF

When asked by a friend to participate at one of the Copper Dog 2011 crossings, immediate excuses came to my mind like, " I don't have experience, I'm not qualified, I don't know anything about mushing..etc." But with further prodding from my friend with statements like,  It will be a blast, you'll meet interesting people, and I could really use the help,  I immediately agreed.  How could anyone refuse that?

Watching the start of the race  was so much more exciting anticipating the crossing. As I walked along 5th Street,  I began to get a feel for what it takes to organize the race. The incredible group effort,  familiar faces of the volunteers, and the pent up energy of the dogs. Later that night at the crossing a profound feeling came over me as I watched the first team approach our ninety degree turn in utter silence. After that initial moment of quietude, the dogs were upon us and our crossing team was forced to spring into action ! We quickly refined our crossing strategy, and with added appreciation from the exhausted mushers, we rallied on. It’s was adrenaline, camaraderie,  team work,  a new respect for the mushing spirit and  an amazing amount of fun.

Once you volunteer for the Copper Dog 150 and you begin to meet the hard working folks that make this event possible you can clearly see there’s a love being generated, and it shows. The mushers love it, the dogs love it, spectators love it, and the volunteers are the glue that bind it all together.

A word of warning: Volunteering for the CD 150 may be habit forming and is know to be contagious.

Come join us in 2012!

How We Approach Safety

To fully appreciate how CopperDog approaches safety it's very helpful to know the history of our inaugural event in 2010. As mushers poured into town for our first race the temperature was in the 50's and it was pouring rain. We literally watched in dismay as the rain and high temperatures eroded our trail system down to the dirt before our eyes.

Going into the third and final stage, record high temperatures concerned the vets and a few mushers considered the trails impassible (dirt, rocks and water barriers). Mushers were split evenly down the middle between pressing on regardless or canceling the third stage of the race. A compromise was reached (the start time moved up and the distance reduced, but a number of mushers walked away never intending to return.

Our fledgling race organization received more than its fair share of unanticipated challenges and tough love that first year.

With our first race wrapped up, we reflected on what we learned and we had a decision to make. We either needed to get out of the racing business or do the work necessary to becoming a world-class event. We chose the latter deciding that we were going to be one of the most dog and musher friendly events in the sport. 

Our motto, "happy healthy dogs, happy healthy mushers" because a constant reminder of our goals and was later expanded to include "happy healthy volunteers".

Since 2010 we have worked very hard to develop our race around this very simple, but power idea. The people who plan the CopperDog are engaged and passionate about every aspect of the event, especially the safety of the dogs, mushers, and hundreds of volunteers who make the race possible.

Although it is impossible to remove all the risk from events like sled dog races, with clear focus and persistence it is possible to minimize risk through excellent planning, effective communication, innovative tools, and hands-on volunteer training.

We do not know if CopperDog is entirely unique in offering hands-on volunteer training (volunteers practicing trail crossings with real 10-dog teams in a large parking lot) to volunteers, but we know it teaches volunteers what they need to know going into race weekend.

Our volunteers are trained how to clearly signal teams (day and night), capture and line out teams, follow the instructions of mushers, log mushers through crossing, and communicate vital data back to headquarters so we can make sure all the mushers are accounted for and making forward progress throughout the race.

We work closely with fire departments, police, search and rescue, first responders, and the road commissions to alert traffic to upcoming trail crossings, close lanes on bridges, and stay in radio communication with headquarters. We also employ a radio network that is constantly sending information on musher movements back to headquarters which is logging data into a database and feeding an interactive map that is estimating the position of each team on the route.

We have some pretty advanced technology driving our information flow and each year the systems are being developed and improved.

We started a new Lead Volunteer program in 2013 where volunteers interested in taking on more responsibility are provided with additional training and tools to help us manage the hundreds of volunteers working the event race weekend. These volunteers will help ensure that race procedures are followed, that information is flowing properly, and safety receives top priority.

Finally for 2013 we have created and filled a new Safety Coordinator position and supporting positions within CopperDog intended on help bring together all of our safety initiatives into a comprehensive plan that actually gets communicated effectively.

Will all of these initiatives guarantee that the CopperDog will never have a tragic incident?  Not by a long shot, but these initiatives help us minimize both the frequency of incidents and their impact when they do occur.

Will our efforts be enough? We hope so, with so many dogs, mushers, volunteers and fans putting their faith in our careful planning to keep them safe.

We are deeply saddened by incidents at any race where dogs and/or mushers are injured, but we must study these incidents to understand would types of policy or procedures can help prevent similar problems from happening in the future.

posted on 2/18/2013 12:17 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top
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