AND THEY’RE OFF! CopperDog race starts in Calumet

Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie The first musher in the CopperDog 150 dog sled race, Amber Evans of Milaca, Minnesota, in the number 1 bib, gets ready to start Friday in Calumet. Fifth Street was jammed with spectators waiting to see the start.

CALUMET — The temperature was cold, but the sky was clear, and there was no snow falling Friday at the start of the CopperDog 150 dog sled race on 5th Street.

Race Director Meredith LaBeau said there were 21 mushers entered for the 150 race, with all but five returning. For the 80 race, 13 mushers were entered and eight were returning.

LaBeau said things were going well for the event, and the clear weather helped.

“The weather’s great,” she said.

The dog prefer the colder temperatures, LaBeau said.

One of the mushers, Alix Crittenden of Bondurant, Wyoming, said she was taking part in her first CopperDog.

“I have never been to the Upper Peninsula at all,” she said. “So far we are loving it.”

She has been racing for five years, Crittenden said. For the CopperDog, she brought 19 dogs, and will run 10 at a time.

She hadn’t seen any of the course before the race, Crittenden said, so it was going to be a surprise for her.

Watching the race for the first time were Katharine and Steve Jarm of Eagle Harbor. Katharine said she came to the race because she likes dogs, and the race dogs are “awesome.”

Steve Jarm said it was good the temperature was cold.

“If it was too warm, it wouldn’t be good for the dogs,” he said.

Deb Oliver of Lake Linden said she was attending the race for the third time.

“The ending is most exciting,” she said. “I love the excitement of it. It’s an awesome event.”

Before the start of the race, Calumet’s state Rep. Scott Dianda and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters spoke to the crowd.

The temperature for the finish of the race on Sunday is supposed to be about 40 degrees, and LaBeau said it might affect the race.

“We’re watching the weather closely, and we’ll make decisions as necessary,” she said.