Hardman competes in Beargrease
Monday, March 3, 2003Ludington musher Al Hardman is moving up the leader board in the 2003 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, a 300-mile race along the Lake Superior shoreline in Minnesota.
Hardman was in the 19th starting position at 4 p.m. Sunday and had already moved up to fifth place when he checked into the Sawbill checkpoint at 10:47 Sunday night.
Sawbill is the second of six checkpoints before the finish.
Hardman left Sawbill with 11 dogs at 3:50 this morning. He dropped a dog at Finland, the first checkpoint, Sunday afternoon. The Beargrease Web site lists Hardmanís estimated third checkpoint check in time at 8:54 a.m. based on his run times on previous legs of the race.
The Beargrease has two races in one, a 150-mile sprint and the 300-mile marathon. Like many sled dog events this year, poor trail conditions shortened the marathon was shorted from its normal 500-mile length.
Mushers in the 300-mile race started at Highway 2 north of Duluth, and will race northeast along the coast of Lake Superior, turning at the Poplar Lake Trail Center.
Two other mushers with local ties are in the 300-mile race: Lloyd Gilbertson, of Chatham, an Iditarod veteran who trains with Hardman, and Tasha Stielstra, wife of Ed Stielstra, formerly of Ludington. Ed and Tasha recently moved back to Michigan from Minnesota to run dogs full time.
Gilbertson was the first musher into the Sawbill checkpoint Sunday night. Tasha was in 18th place in the 26-musher event.
Mushers are required to take two four-hour layovers during the race and start times are adjusted during their first required stop at Poplar Lake.
On the Web at www.beargrease.com.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race starts at 2 p.m. EST today in Fairbanks, Alaska. Hardman is a three-time Iditarod finisher. This year, his dog handler Rick Minard had planned to compete in the 1,050-mile race but dropped out, as did a dozen other mushers, due to poor weather conditions, i.e. - a lack of snow.
That lack of snow forced a change in the first half of the course to a more northern trail starting in Fairbanks instead of Wasilla for the first time in the raceís 31-year history.