10th Annual Hugh Heward Challenge

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April 24, 2010


The Hugh Heward Challenge is an annual paddling event commemorating British fur trader Hugh Heward and seven Frenchmen’s 50 mile sprint in two birch bark canoes down the Grand River on April 24, 1790.  Michigan Historian and Topologist Jim Woodruff brought Hugh’s historical trek to the attention of world renowned canoeist Verlen Kruger and asked if the modern paddler could accomplish such a feat in the same amount of time- from dawn to dusk. Verlen accepted the challenge and invited others to join; The Hugh Heward Challenge was born. Last year over 100 paddlers participated in the reenactment of all or part of Hugh’s route from Dimondale to Portland. The challenge evolved to include paddlers comfortable with shorter distances, offering start locations known as the “Half Hugh” starting in Grand Ledge a distance of 25 miles, and the “Quarter Hugh” starting at Charlotte Hwy Bridge in Portland a distance of 13 miles.

Marathon racers from all over Michigan also paddle the Hugh as a warm up launching their race season, although the event is not a “race" per se, given their competitive nature, we all know they're keeping score. And despite launching three hours after everyone from Dimondale, they are among the first arriving at the Thompson Field Landing. Everyone enjoys watching the pro’s sprint past like machinery in sleek canoes, heads down racing the clock. What a sight! 


Whole Hugh:  6am, Lions Park 300 W. Jefferson St. Dimondale, 50 miles (Marathon racers start at 9am).

Half Hugh:
  9am, Grand Ledge Dam in Fitzgerald Park, 25 miles.

Quarter Hugh:
  Noon, Charlotte Hwy Bridge, Portland, 13 miles.
(If you are paddling this section and need a canoe, Looking Grand Canoe Rental will supply one at no cost---as well as drop it off and pick it up, call ahead: Dennis 517-647-7402 or Deb 517-331-7402.)

The City of Dimondale welcomes challengers to camp at Lions Park Friday night, no fee. The park offers: sheltered picnic tables, bathrooms with running water, and charcoal grills. Sorry, no pancake breakfast this year due to lack of interest.  

Trailspotters of Michigan, Inc. is donating shuttle service for paddlers Friday for Dimondale starters only & Saturday for Dimondale, Grand Ledge,  & Charlotte Hwy Bridge starters. PLEASE NOTE: The shuttle carries people, not boats/gear. (free service/tipping encouraged). 

Make a shuttle reservation by clicking the link below and following the instructions. Note: the difference between trailspotting & carspotting you will choose your preference, Tom gives good instructions, read carefully.

Maps of the route are provided the morning of the event. Certificates of completion and chili dinner are available to all participants at the finish. Donations accepted for other hot food & water at the finish. Pre-Registration encouraged $10/paddler. Sorry, no new Hugh shirts this year, previous years will be available. We now accept Visa/MC.

Email us at hughhewardchallenge@gmail.com
 or call:
(517) 285-7169 -Stacy Krause
(517) 285-6210 -Kevin Krause