Thurston continues on trail as winner declared |

Thurston continues on trail as winner declared

Lance Mackey takes 3rd straight Iditarod

Tom Thurston's progress through Wednesday, March 18, 2009.
Courtesy Photo

— It was another day on the ice for Tom Thurston, the Oak Creek musher competing in this year’s Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Thurston left a checkpoint at Eagle Island, Alaska, bright and early Wednesday morning as the temperature hovered near minus 15 degrees.

The trail took him north on the frozen Yukon River, toward Kaltag. The 70-mile trek between checkpoints is one of the longest of the 1,130-mile race, but reaching that point will mean Thurston is nearly two-thirds done with the massive endeavor.

It also means he’ll be through with the long run down the icy river. After Kaltag, the trail cuts from village to village until it reaches the coast, and eventually to the race’s finish at Nome, Alaska.

Musher Heather Siirtola, also with Routt County connections, lagged a little behind Thurston. Trying to finish the Iditarod for the third time, the former Steamboat Springs resident was one leg behind Thurston, at Eagle Island on the banks of the Yukon.

Thurston was in 48th place and Siirtola in 56th.

Nearly 500 miles ahead of both of them, Lance Mackey finished the race to defend his 2007 and 2008 championships. He crossed the finish line in 9 days, 21 hours, 38 minutes and 46 seconds. The time was about 16 hours slower than his previous best, the slowest winning time since 2003 and the second-slowest since 1995.

– To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail

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