CALUMET - The snow conditions for the inaugural CopperDog 150 last March weren't great, but mushers saw everything they needed to see to know the Midwest's newest sled dog race is a good one.
"Even though the snow conditions weren't ideal, everyone knows that was an aberration," Calumet resident and avid musher Jerry Trudell said. "The snow doesn't just disappear here that early in the year very often, so everyone was looking forward to coming back."
The conditions were the only thing that organizers had no hand in controlling, and according to Michigamme musher Lyle Ross, everything else went well.
"The officials, timekeepers, volunteers, all of that important stuff was top notch," Ross said. "We can't control Mother Nature, but the people were friendly, outgoing and right from the downtown start, it was flawless. For being a first-time race, it was unbelievable what a good job they did."
Both Trudell and Ross are slated to return, along with more than 20 other mushers from four states and two provinces for the second annual race slated for March 5 to 7.
"I'm looking forward to it this year," Trudell said. "Just looking through the mushers that are coming the word is definitely out. There is some tremendous competition coming in again this year."
The draw for Trudell and Ross is that the race is right in their backyards, but for the vast majority of the participants, it's quite a trek to Calumet for the race.
"Anyone that races in the series we do in the upper Midwest knows what it's like in the Keweenaw," Trudell said. "They've almost all done the Midnight Run (in Marquette), so they all know the terrain, and they hear 250 inches of snow and they know it has to be some good trails."
Another attractive thing to mushers: A $20,000 purse.
"There was top-notch competition last year, and it will be the same thing this year," said Ross, who finished eighth last year. "That has a lot to do with the fact that there is a nice purse available. For that size of a race, it's a very substantial purse and that's a credit to the community, which has pitched in a lot to make this race happen."
CopperDog organizers are still looking for sponsors, volunteers and additional mushers. For more information, visit copperdog150.com.