GH native nears conclusion of race

Matt DeYoung • Mar 17, 2017 at 6:34 PM

Justin Stielstra is nearing the conclusion of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

The 22-year-old Grand Haven native reached the White Mountain checkpoint on Thursday at 2 p.m. (Alaska time zone).

White Mountain is the 18th of 20 checkpoints along the 979-mile course. Next is Safety, 55 miles down the trail. The final stretch is a 22-mile push to the end of the race in Nome.

Mitch Seavey won this year’s Iditarod, finishing the race at 3:40 p.m. Tuedsay, March 14. A total of 46 mushers had reached Nome as of Friday afternoon. Eight others have bowed out of the race.

Steilstra still has 11 of his dogs running in the Iditarod. He started with 16.

As a rookie racer with a young team, Steilstra’s goal wasn’t to compete for a top spot but instead to have a positive experience in his first time tackling the iconic sled dog race.

“I’m going to take a nice, slow pace,” he said prior to the start of the race. “I have a couple 1-year-olds on my team. We’re just going this year to make sure they have a good first trip to Nome, make it fun for the dogs and me. We’re out to enjoy the trip.”

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