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Montanan wins Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

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Hastings, 55033

Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Jason Barron of Lincoln, Mont., and his 11 dogs won the 25th John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon with a trail time of 34 hours, 43 minutes and 26 seconds.

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With wind chill readings dipping below minus 40, Barron crossed the finish line at Billy's Bar at approximately 8:40 a.m. today.

With ice in his beard, Barron, 36, congratulated every dog that led him to his first Beargrease win.

"The trail was tough," said Barron in his first Beargrease attempt. "My team is so tired. The hills finally took their toll on the last run."

Barron took a patient strategy to victory with an average speed of 11 mph.

John Stetson of Duluth finished second, crossing the finish line at 9:16 a.m. Stetson's time was 35:18:04.

"Jason had a plan," said race marshall Gunnar Johnson, who has known the Barron family since 1991. "He and Dan Bergerson, who was close with [four-time Beargrease winner] Jamie Nelson, came up with a plan and ran it accordingly. They hung back and shot ahead. It pushed them from the back to the front."

Barron, with a kennel of 22 dogs, will participate in his eighth Iditarod this spring. He took eighth place in the Alaskan race in 2006.

Jason's father, John, is a former Beargrease champion.

Barron and Stetson were the only two mushers to finish as of 10:45 a.m.

For more of this story, read tomorrow's Duluth News Tribune and check back to duluthnewstribune.com.

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