Team Minard coming to a trail near you
Rick Minard and Al Hardman coming to a fun run in Thompsonville
Friday, December 13, 2002Team Minard is coming to a dog sled trail near you.
Iditarod veteran Al Hardman and 2003 Iditarod rookie Rick Minard, Hardman's long-time handler, are bringing Hardman's dog team to Thompsonville this weekend to attend the 2002 Mid-Union Sled Hauler's fun run and Christmas party.
The second annual event, held at the Betsie River Sportsman’s Club, starts today at noon and runs through Sunday.
Phil Hoyt, the host for this year’s event says it’s a great opportunity to see dog teams in action, without traveling to Alaska.
He said every level of musher from two-dog Samoyed teams to Hardman’s team of 20 dogs will attend the weekend event.
The event is one of several held to help mushers prepare for the 2003 racing season. Mushers will run teams, practice passing and enjoy their sport and friends.
“There’s no regimen, no plan, just a bunch of gypsies and dogs,” Hoyt said.
The weekend is likely to be the only chance to see Rick Minard in the lower peninsula before he heads to Alaska to compete in the Iditarod.
Snow conditions have been so poor in lower Michigan that Hardman and Minard have done 99 percent of their training in the Upper Peninsula for the past three years.
This year is no different, even Alaskan mushers are just now getting their first snowfalls.
Hardman said he’s been lucky this year. He and Minard have been able to run on sleds for weeks.
“Swingley hasn’t even been on sleds yet,” he said, of five-time Iditarod champion Doug Swingley. Hardman has become friends with the Montana musher over the years, buying several dogs to fill out his kennel.
Hardman said he expects Minard to have the dogs in Thompsonville this afternoon and plans to meet him there on Saturday morning.
Directions to the Betsie River Sportsman’s Club, located at 14451 Egan Road, Thompsonville.
Go north on U.S. 31, to the Manistee/Benzie County line, take Countyline Road east. Turn north, left, on M-115 and go to Lindy Road, turn right on Lindy Road and follow it to Third Street in Thompsonville, go north on Third Street then, as it dead ends go left to Egan Road.
Hoyt said fluorescent paper plates with the word MUSH on them will mark the route.