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Fraboni wins John Beargrease mid-distance race

Ross Fraboni helps his team along by using a ski pole and kicking as they near the end of the John Beargrease mid-distance race in Tofte on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014. Fraboni won the race. (Steve Kuchera / / 2
Josh Compton and his team run thourgh blowing snow as they near the finish line for the John Beargrease mid-distance race in Tofte on Monday morning, Jan. 27, 2014. Compton finished second. (Steve Kuchera / / 2

Steve Kuchera

Ross Fraboni won the John Beargrease mid-distance sled dog race Monday. It was the second time he ran the 113-mile race along the North Shore.

“It was really warmer the last time,” the Two Harbors musher said after crossing the finish line in Tofte. “This is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done.”

Shortly before sunrise Monday, the National Weather Service reported tempeatures of 17 below in the Tofte area, with a northwest wind gusting to 41 mph.

His dogs “don’t seem to mind” the weather at all, Fraboni said.

“The dogs did really good,” he said. “They just plug through it.”

As for himself, Fraboni said “You dress for it.”

Fraboni helped stay warm, and helped his team along, by using a ski pole and kicking a leg.

Finishing second was Joshua Compton, Fraboni’s teammate at Ten Squared Racing. It was Compton’s first Beargrease and only second sled dog race.

“I’m really happy for him,” Fraboni said. “He did wonderfully in the most difficult conditions.”

Compton said there were times on the trail when blowing snow made it difficult to see the trail.

“You were just shooting for an opening in the trees,” he said.

Like Fraboni, Compton kicked and poled. He was cramping up near the end of the race.

“It was pretty miserable,” he said.

But doing well made it worthwhile.

"I can’t feel my right foot,” he said shortly after finishing. “It was fun.”

Mid-distance musher Elizabeth Nelson, 14, of Togo, who was profiled in Sunday's News Tribune, was on the trail between Finland and Tofte as of 11 a.m.

In the 374-mile marathon, past Beargrease champion Keith Aili of Ray was first in to the Sawbill checkpoint on Monday morning. He remained there as of 11 a.m. with several other marathon mushers.