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Reigning Beargrease Champ and Runner Up Confident in 2020

Updated: January 27, 2020 10:15 AM

By the time Beargrease mushers and dogs made it to the Finland, Minn. checkpoint, they had run more than 70 miles. 

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But they had to stop in Two Harbors first. There, reigning champion Blake Freking and runner up Jen Freking fed their dogs a snack of chicken and beef and rested them before a bigger meal. 

Both Frekings said they felt good heading into the 2020 race. 

"I like seeing all these great teams show up at the Beargrease. It's a great field this year," Blake said. "It doesn't change anything for me. It's a whole new year, whole different team. So for me, it's just another Beargrease." 

Blake has a young team of mostly 2-year-old dogs, besides his leaders Eagle and Fenrir. So he said he'll adjust the pace depending on how the young ones do. 

On Jen's team of 12 dogs, nine are returning from her 2019 team. They are mostly Siberian huskies. 

"My team will be a little slower this year, I expect, with the warm weather," she said. "Last year was a big advantage for my huskies. They thrive in those conditions." 

2019 was a frigid race with wind chills often reaching double digits below zero. 

Strategy will begin to play out over the next few legs. Teams must accumulate a total of at least 24 hours of rest. The race is expected to be about 24 hours of racing, 24 hours of resting. Some mushers prefer to run more at the beginning, rest more at the end. 

A finish is expected sometime Tuesday afternoon or evening. 

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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