Thurston ready for Iditarod race |

Thurston ready for Iditarod race

1,150-mile trek starts today in Alaska

Tom Thurston visits with his lead dogs during a stop at the halfway point of a training run on a country road near Oak Creek in 2009. Thurston used the stop to water the dogs and train them for what life will be like on the trail during races like the Iditarod, which starts today.

 On the verge of starting his second run in the massive Iditarod Trail Dog Race in Alaska, Tom Thurston said there's one major difference between this year and last.

"This year I know it's possible," the Oak Creek musher said.

Festivities in the 37th annual Iditarod began Saturday with a ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. Racers will restart today at 3:45 p.m. Mountain Standard Time and begin making their way down the 1,150-mile trail that ends in Nome, Alaska.

Thurston finished the route last year in 14 days, 3 hours, 36 minutes and 22 seconds, in 44th place. This year, he drew the 67th starting spot in a lottery, but that doesn't worry him, and he's still hoping for a top-30 finish.

"Knowing what I'm in for has helped a lot," he said. "Things have gone well so far. I have 16 healthy dogs, and I'm really happy."

He left his Oak Creek home Feb. 4 to travel for the race and said the one thing he's most eager to see is his wife, Tami's, face at the finish line in Nome.

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"We can't wait to get to the starting line, then as soon as you get there, you can't wait to get to the finish line," Thurston said. "You spend all your time wishing your life away. This year, I'm just going to take it one checkpoint at a time and try to enjoy as many moments as possible."

The race's start can be seen live with an insider's subscription at Check the Steamboat Pilot & Today throughout Thurston's race for updates on his progress.