Mush! Chisholm man starts Iditarod, other Minnesotans biked the trail

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A Chisholm musher is once again participating in the nation's most legendary sled dog race, the nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod, which got its start in Alaska on Saturday.

Nathan Schroeder, 37, fulfilled his dream of participating in the race in 2014, where he finished 17th and won the Rookie of the Year trophy. Schroeder tells The Duluth News Tribune that his goals this year are modest: “I want to finish. I want to do better than last year, but that’s kind of my last priority.”

Schroeder has a few victories under his belt. He is the two-time champion of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, the annual 400-mile race along the North Shore; he and his team came in second earlier this winter in the 2015 race.

Schroeder writes on his website that sled dog racing is something he has wanted to do since he was young.

The spark started as a young boy in grade school, we had a sled dog presentation. Following the presentation we all had a ride...well, I was instantly hooked. Soon after, I got my first sled dog Ivy and my parents bought me many dog sledding books. I learned of the Iditarod as I read the book, Cold Night Fast Trail by Dave Oleson.

 I gave up my youth and everything that goes along with it for my team and dogsledding! My dogs have built a life for me that I will never regret. I was born and raised on the Iron Range of Minnesota, I work in the mines. I'm married and have 3 children. 

The Iditarod usually takes about nine days to complete, with checkpoints along the way. Follow Schroeder's progress on his race bio page as he checks in along the journey.

The Iditarod had to move its starting spot 225 miles north, due to the lack on snow and ice on the usual route, according to the Associated Press. Temperatures on the trail could dip to 20 below zero in the middle of the week, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Minnesota's Cindy Gallea of Wykoff scratched earlier this week due to illness. Another racer with a Minnesota connection is Brent Sass, who was born and raised in Excelsior. He moved to Alaska in 1998 and was the 2012 Iditarod Rookie of the Year.

Not all Minnesotans are competing by dogsled. MPR News reports that several Minnesota men pedaled their fat tire bikes through the 350-mile course of the Iditarod Trail Invitational.

"It's an incredibly hard, incredibly difficult, potentially very, very dangerous race with extreme weather and extreme temperatures," Charly Tri of Rochester tells MPR.

St. Cloud's Ben Doom took sixth place, and Tri came in seventh.

MPR's story noted that this year's two-wheel event marked the fastest bike race in its 13-year history, with temperatures above zero most of time.

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