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The race is on: Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat races are Saturday

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How excited are last year's champions about the prospect of defending their dragon boat title today?

"Ecstatic," said Mitch Rautio, the captain of the defending champion Wooly Irishmen, which is returning about 90 percent of last year's team.

So far this week the Wooly Irishmen have practiced twice, he said.

"Everyone seemed to re-member what they're doing," he said. "We seemed to get in synch again. Hopefully, we can keep the rhythm."

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