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2 mushers lead Beargrease

ON THE BEARGREASE TRAIL -- Two area mushers lead the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon this morning.

Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm and Matt Rossi of Hebster, Wis., are the only two mushers to have left the Devil's Track checkpoint, or 230 miles into the 380-mile endurance test.

Schroeder, who has led for most of the first half of the race, left Devil's Track with 11 dogs at 8 a.m. today, and Rossi left with 12 dogs at 10 a.m.

The four former champions still in the race are resting at Trail Center. Blake Freking came in at 6:57; Jason Barron came in at 7:55; Mark Black arrived at 8:11; and Jamie Nelson slid in at 9:55.

Black predicted that today's portion of the race would determine the winner. In last year's race, Barron, the two-time defending champion, skipped the downbound Sawbill checkpoint en route to a comeback win.

John Barron, a two-time former winner (1999 and 2000) and Jason's father, withdrew from the race Monday morning. Five other mushers have stopped racing.