Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm defended his title at the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, finishing two hours ahead of his closest pursuer Wednesday along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Schroeder, who won last year and in 2010, now heads to the March 1 Iditarod in Alaska.

Organizers of the race nearly cancelled it but new sponsors stepped up to boost the purse and keep the tradition alive. Rice director Jason Rice said the introduction of GPS tracking proved popular, with the race's website getting hits from more than 20,000 different computers Sunday and Monday, according to the Duluth News Tribune.