Thurston nears coast in 46th place |

Thurston nears coast in 46th place

Tom Thurston's progress through Thursday, March 19, 2009.
Courtesy Photo

— It wasn’t much of a layover, but Tom Thurston’s one-night stay at Kaltag signaled that he was two-thirds of the way through the 1,130-mile Iditarod dog sled race.

Thurston skidded into the checkpoint at about 7 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on Wednesday night then left the isolated Yukon River outpost at 3:15 a.m.

The course finally took Thurston away from the Yukon River after several days running on the frozen river. Thurston began the trek toward the coast, where he and his team of dogs will run along the Norton Sound, which joins with the Bering Sea.

At the coast town of Unalakleet, the trail turns north for one of the final legs of the journey.

Thurston was running in 46th place Thursday evening.

Heather Siirtola also reached Kaltag, but got in only an hour before Thurston left.

She then left early Thursday afternoon. She was 52nd in the race, which is down to 56 teams.

Nearly 20 other racers already had finished the trek or had left from the final checkpoint early Thursday evening.

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