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Beargrease update: Redington leaves Grand Portage

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Ryan Redington, who finished second in last year's John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, gives a thumbs-up to fans at the start of the race Sunday. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com2 / 3
Frank Moe's mid-distance team runs down the trail shortly after starting the John Beargrease sled dog race Sunday. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Musher Ryan Redington and his team were the first to leave the Grand Portage checkpoint of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon on Monday night.

Redington, of Alaska, who was the runner-up in last year’s race, left Grand Portage — 183 miles into the 373-mile marathon event — at 8:03 p.m., after a mandatory eight-hour layover, according to online race tracking.

The other eight remaining marathon mushers were in Grand Portage as of 10 p.m. Monday, waiting to complete their mandatory layovers, as well as account for the difference in their start times.

Seven of those eight had arrived at Grand Portage in close proximity between 2:30 and 3 p.m. Monday, about three hours behind Redington — in order, they were four-time Beargrease champion Nathan Schroeder of Warba, Colleen Wallin of Two Harbors, three-time Beargrease champion Ryan Anderson of Ray, Matt Schmidt of Grand Marais, 2004 Beargrease champion Blake Freking of Finland, Denis Tremblay of Quebec and 2006 Beargrease champion Keith Aili of Ray.

The other remaining marathon musher, Blair Braverman of Mountain, Wis., reached Grand Portage at 7:27 p.m. Monday. Kevin Mathis of Iowa dropped out of the race earlier Monday.

Anderson was slated to be the first to leave Grand Portage behind Redington, at 10:39 p.m. Monday, followed minutes later by Wallin and Schroeder.

There are similarities to last year’s race, when Redington was the first to leave Grand Portage with a lead of more than two hours, only to be caught and passed down the stretch by eventual champion Anderson.

But a key difference: Redington had just seven dogs in harness when he left Grand Portage in last year’s race. This year, he left Grand Portage with 11 dogs for the long run back down the North Shore.

From Grand Portage, mushers follow a 53-mile leg to Skyport Lodge on Devil Track Lake near Grand Marais. The top mushers should reach the finish line at Billy’s Bar near Duluth early Wednesday.

Check for race updates Tuesday.