Chisholm's Nathan Schroeder was running in 12th place in Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday morning.

Schroeder, a three-time John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon champion racing in his second Iditarod, left the Ruby checkpoint - 346 miles into the 979-mile race from Fairbanks to Nome - at 3:24 a.m. Alaska time Thursday, according to the race website. Schroeder spent a little less than 5 hours at the Ruby checkpoint and dropped three dogs from his team of 16, leaving him with 13 dogs going forward in the race.

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The leg of the race from Tanana to Ruby is 119 miles, the longest stretch between checkpoints in this year's race. Schroeder's team covered that distance at an average speed of 5.83 miles per hour, the race website reported.

Schroeder finished 17th in last year's Idiarod - his first - earning him rookie of the year honors.

The next checkpoint is 50 miles away at the village of Galena, and four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King of Denali, Alaska, was the first musher to reach that checkpoint at 4:37 a.m. Thursday.

The race started Monday in Fairbanks, a change from the usual starting point because of poor snow conditions in south-central Alaska. Seventy-eight mushers started the nearly 1,000-mile race to Nome.

One musher was disqualified on Tuesday. Brent Sass, who won the Yukon Quest last month, was disqualified after race officials confirmed he was carrying an iPod Touch at the Tanana checkpoint. Mushers are prohibited from carrying devices capable of two-way communications and the iPod Touch, with its Wi-Fi capability that allows users to connect to the Internet, is considered such a device.

Another musher, Zoya DeNure, scratched from the race at Tanana.

Find more Iditarod coverage from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner here.

Alaska Dispatch News contributed to this report.