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      CopperDog 150 begins in Calumet

      The CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 races began Friday with dog sleds charging out of the start gate on Calumet??s 5th Street.

      Some mushers have raced in the CopperDog a handful of times, like Randy Foust from Wisconsin who is a CopperDog 40 veteran.

      ??It??s certainly well-run, very good volunteers, lots of help,?? said Foust. ??It??s a good race to run.??

      And some are racing the CopperDog for the first time. Michael Shaeffer, from Wyoming, assisted mushers in previous years, and is taking on the 150 course for himself this year.

      ??I was blown away by just the overall camaraderie of everyone in the U.P. about this race, too,?? said Shaeffer. ??So we were excited to come back here again and experience that whole thing again.??

      More than 30 teams will wind their way through the Keweenaw Friday night through Sunday.

      The first leg of the 150 takes the teams on a 49-mile trek overnight to Eagle Harbor. The second leg is a 42-mile jaunt to Copper Harbor Saturday morning, and the last, 43-mile leg begins with a hike up Brockway Mountain and finishes in Calumet around noon.

      The race wouldn??t be a hit without the 300-some volunteers who man the checkpoints, handle the dogs, and record times over the weekend.

      ??It??s just a lot of fun,?? said volunteer, Amanda O??Toole. ??It??s really well-organized, which is good, like, I didn??t realize there were so many people involved with all the handling and even just what to expect with all the dogs. It??s a lot of fun!??

      Though the teams and the entire community enjoy the entertainment, it??s not all fun and games. A $24,000 purse will be split between the top ten finishers.

      Some mushers, however, say winning isn??t everything.

      ??Maybe not a top five or top ten finish. I just want to be sure that the dogs are happy and healthy by the end of the race, I??m happy and healthy, and we??re leaving Calumet with a smile on our face,?? Shaeffer said.

      But others are a little more competitive.

      ??To win!?? Foust exclaimed.