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2 Minnesota mushers competing in world famous Iditarod sled dog race

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The Iditarod – the world famous annual dog sled race in Alaska – kicked off Sunday night with two Minnesotans among the 85 competing mushers.

The race started in Anchorage this year, and the 1,000-mile trek to the finish line in Nome will take about eight days, the race website says.

Here's a look at the mushers from Minnesota:

Nathan Schroder

Nathan Schroder, of Warba, is a four-time John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon champion, millwright by profession and father of three, his Iditarod bio says.

As of noon Monday, the Iditarod's website showed him at the Finger Lake in 22nd place. Follow his progress here.

It's his third time competing in the Iditarod – in 2014, he was named the race's Rookie of the Year, the race website shows. Schroder previously finished 17th in 2014 and 23rd in 2015.

"After last years’ race at the finish line, I absolutely needed to return! So here we go again!” said the 38 year-old in his profile.

If he wins the Iditarod, Beargrease Director Jason Rice told FOX 21 they'd have a sled dog parade in his honor.

Cindy Gallea

The 64-year-old nurse from Wykoff, Minnesota, is returning to the Iditarod after racing in it several times, her bio shows.

As of noon Monday, Cindy Gallea was in 77th place. Follow her progress here.

"Each time, I have said it is my ‘last Iditarod.’ But I have found it difficult to let go of something that is deep in my soul and that gives me the opportunity to run my dogs for days through the beauty of Alaska,” Gallea said in her bio.

In her rookie race, Gallea finished 48th, her bio notes. Gallea's best finish came in 2003, when she came in at No. 33.

Nearly one-third of the mushers are women in this year's race, making it one of the only professional competitive sports that is truly co-ed, Outside magazine says. Furthermore, the top-10 Iditarod finishes between women and men are often an even split, the publication notes.

Warm winter affects the race

Alaska, like Minnesota, has experienced an unusually warm winter. So for this year's opening ceremony 350 cubic yards of snow had to be brought in by train, New York Times says.

There still wasn't enough snow after the donation from Fairbanks, so Saturday's opening parade was just three miles long compared to the usual 11, the paper notes.

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