Oak Creek's Thurston approaches halfway point in Iditarod

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Oak Creek musher Tom Thurston

— Oak Creek musher Tom Thurston was in a tight race to keep his dog team in the top 25 on Thursday, six days into his fourth try at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska.

Thurston raced Thursday with 13 dogs after he dropped one per day since Tuesday. He spent most of Wednesday at the Takotna checkpoint, taking care of a 24-hour rest period competitors are required to take at some point during the race. After leaving Takotna at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, he sped through a checkpoint in Ophir and was on his way to Cripple, a camp in a gold-mining region of the state 73 miles down the trail.

Jim Lanier, the first racer to reach Cripple, was rewarded with a trophy and $3,000 in gold nuggets. It’s good news for all racers, however, as that checkpoint marks the halfway point in this year’s race.

Although Lanier led the race Thursday, Mitch Seavey was in good shape to take over the lead as he is the only musher of the top three already to have taken his 24-hour break. Thurston left Ophir in 26th, but 12 teams were within two hours of him on the trail. There still were 65 teams in the race Thursday.

Tom Thurston in the 2012 Iditarod

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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