Loppet Foundation

2016 Hoigaard’s Challenge: Josie Nelson and Craig Cardinal Crowned Champs

This article was posted on Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The 2016 Hoigaard’s Challenge concluded on Saturday, September 24th at the Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet. It was a challenging and muddy course, but that didn’t keep Josie Nelson or Craig Cardinal from taking the first place step in the Overall Hoigaard’s Challenge!

The Hoigaard’s Challenge is a competition series made up of the four major Loppet events: The City of Lakes Loppet in the winter, the CITYTRAIL Loppet in the spring, the UCare Tri-Loppet in the summer, and the Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet in the fall. To win the Overall category, participants must have the fastest overall time from the combination of all four of the long-course races from these four events. Competitors who complete two or more events can also gun for age-class awards, which is determined by scores tallied by a racer’s place in each race.

This year, 27 finishers completed all four of the long-course races and 11 of those racers were women — a record number to complete the grueling and rare feat. On average, women compete for over six total hours and men for over five. This race series is a true test of Minnesota-ness.

Race Recap


Defending her title once again was Josie Nelson, who dominated the field and won by over an hour with a total combined time of 6:50:45. Unfortunately, Josie is not eligible to win the grand prize trip to Bearskin Lodge this year as participants may only win once every four years. Josie will be eligible again in 2017. After Josie, was Alison Forney-Gorman who finished in second place with an overall time of 7:47:39. Karen Bebchuk rounded out the podium with a time of 7:58:26.


In the men’s field,Craig Cardinal took the top spot on the podium with a total time of 6:18:28. Taking 2nd place, with a 17-minute gap behind Cardinal, was Team Loppet Racer and LNR coach, Chris Harvey, whose combined time was 6:35:03. In third place, with a time of 6:53:20, was David Nelson.

Age Class Highlights

We had a great showing of participants spanning all the age groups! Out of all who participated, there were only three that received 60 points – a perfect score – in their respective groups: Jan Guenther (Women’s 50-59), Kim Rudd (Women’s 40-49), and Josie Nelson (Women’s 30 – 39).

Congratulations to all Hoigaard’s Challenge racers! We’ll see you soon at the City of Lakes Loppet for the the first race in the 2017 series.

To sign up now for the 2017 series – City of Lakes Loppet, Salomon CITYTRAIL Loppet, UCare Tri-Loppet and Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet – with one easy registration, click here.

Awards Banquet

The annual Hoigaard’s Challenge Events Banquet which takes place in late October, recognizes the winners mentioned above and the participants of the Hoigaard’s Challenge. Age Gap Relay winners will also be celebrated.

All who participated in any official way in the four events receive an invitation to the Events Banquet, a commemorative pin, and a chance to win a trip to Bearskin Lodge commemorating their efforts.

The top three competitors in each age category will receive an invitation to the Events Banquet, personalized prizes in each age category, names engraved on antique paddles displayed in the Loppet office, and a chance to win a trip to Bearskin Lodge.

The overall male and female champions receive a free trip to Bearskin Lodge. Participants are only eligible to win the Bearskin Lodge trip once every four years. This year the winners of the Bearskin Lodge trip are Alison Forney-Gorman and Craig Cardinal.

View the 2016 Hoigaard’s Challenge Final Standings