A drop in temperature is likely the cause of a scarce crowd Sunday afternoon as mushers and canine teams crossed the finish line at the CopperDog 150.
Those who did attend, bundled up and lined 5th Street in the village of Calumet to see their favorite teams and anxiously waited for ranking results.
Festive would be an accurate description for the atmosphere Friday evening in Downtown Calumet as sledding teams launched from the starting gate.
Into the night, each team made their way with one of three possible destinations as the starting gate remained consistent for contestants of the CopperDog 150, CopperDog 80, and CopperDog 25.
“I’m just excited to get out there and get out on the trail. The dogs are ready. I’m ready. I just want to get out there and get going,” said musher Rita Wehseler on Friday afternoon.
Wehseler got off to a strong start and was in a good position to win as of Sunday morning, but an injured lead dog, and a less than obedient replacement put her in third place.
Ryan Anderson took home the 2nd place award, nearly grasping first place that went to Martha Schouweiler of Irma, WI.
“We were a little bit worried about all the snow. Too much snow. Sometimes we’re worried about icy, fast, or not enough snow. This year there’s so much snow, we weren’t sure how soft or hard it would be on the dogs. They did a phenomenal job of getting it groomed up the best they could considering the amount of snow,” said Schouweiler.
Others also gave thank you speeches and accepted awards and prizes, while highlighting the unique sense of closeness shared by the “CopperDog Family.” One speaker, who is a board member of another race, went on to say that the CopperDog 150 is a far more orchestrated event than what his committee puts on, gaining him one of several standing ovations to occur during the ceremony.
Schouweiler said, “Ten dogs is a lot of power for me and my little sled. There’s a lot of power there. Even my son who works with me with the dogs, when we left the starts line today he said, ‘Man, her first few miles are going to be interesting.’ Just holding them back a little bit took everything I had. I’ve never had such sore arms just from holding them back a little bit so they would have energy for the finish.”
Along with winning the race, Schouweiler’s celebrating a personal milestone with this victory as well. Her son, who came to the Copper Country with her, had to make a return trip home to attend the birth of his own son, making her a first time grandmother just before her winning weekend.
Schouweiler said, “Just Tuesday, they had their first child, His name is Theodore Boone Schouweiler and when he was born, I thought the little chance that maybe I would win that race, if I would win that race I’m going to dedicate this race to him, my first grandson.”
In her acceptance speech, she dedicated the win to newly born “T-Boone” and says she can’t wait to meet him when she gets home.