First among rookies, Chisholm musher crosses Iditarod finish line

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Chisholm musher Nathan Schroeder and his team of 11 dogs Wednesday crossed the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race finish line, taking 17th place of the 50 teams still racing. This makes him the first rookie across the finish line in this year's race.

Schroeder's total time in the 1,000-mile race across the Alaskan wilderness was 9 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes, 51 seconds. He and his dogs crossed the finish line at 8:52 a.m. Alaska time / 11:52 a.m. Minnesota time.

Sixty-nine teams began the race March 2.

As reported in the Duluth News Tribune, Schroeder, 36, traded the top rookie spot with Abbie West of Two Rivers, Alaska before pulling in front and finishing five and a half minutes ahead.

His finish earns him the title as 2014 rookie of the year, the Northland News Center reports.

This was Schroeder's first Iditarod. The Iron Range mine worker previously won the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon three times. He is in elite company. In the last two decades, just six rookies have finished higher in the standings.

Another Minnesotan also competed in the Iditarod.

On her official race bio, 62-year old Cindy Gallea of Wykoff says she loves working with dogs in the wilderness.

“I have been running sled dogs for 26 years. For me, Iditarod is an opportunity to be fully immersed in life with my dogs while enjoying the beauty of Alaska, the camaraderie of the Iditarod family and responding to the ’call of the wild’.”

This year's Iditarod has had a relative lack of snow compared to past races.

Slate reports parts of the sled dog route were bare ground and open water in places. Another musher told Slate this year has been the "worst snow year in maybe 30 years."

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