Thurston crosses sea, nears Iditarod finish |

Thurston crosses sea, nears Iditarod finish

— The end is near for Tom Thurston.

The Oak Creek musher pulled into the checkpoint at Elim at about noon Saturday and has just 95 miles remaining in the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska.

Thurston is 45th in the race and third among those who haven’t finished. Former Steamboat Springs resident Heather Siirtola is 50th among the 54-racer field. So far, 13 teams have dropped out.

Thurston made to the small village of Koyuk on Friday evening, completing the last major hurdle between him and the finish line in Nome. The stretch between Shaktoolik and Koyuk led racers out across the frozen ice of the Norton Sound, a piece of trail described as desolate, flat and lonely.

The remaining 95 miles promise more appealing terrain. The trail between Elim and Golovin, the third-to-last checkpoint, follows a well-packed “snowmachine highway” but includes lengthy sections above the tree line.

The race includes one more section that cuts across the sea – racers will spent time on the ice between Golovin and White Mountain – before the trail turns toward Nome and the finish line.

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