Pandemic locks Norwegian runner in Alaska after Iditarod win

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Thomas Waerner won the Iditarod Trail sled dog race this year in March, but is still waiting to return home to Norway.

Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska due to travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Anchorage Daily News reported on Saturday.

“I really like Alaska,” said Waerner. “It’s kind of the perfect place. But I have a family. “

Waerner has five children and 35 other sled dogs in Torpa, Norway. He missed one of his children’s 10th birthday and says he misses morning coffee with his wife, Guro, who left Alaska in March shortly before travel restrictions cut travel .

Waerner, 47, plans to return home in early June on a DC-6 to the Aviation History Museum in Sola, Norway.

Everts Air Cargo of Fairbanks, Alaska, is selling the historic plane, and Waerner said the museum is expected to finalize the deal this week.

“We are hitchhiking,” said Waerner. “The plane is going to Norway and we are going with them. We are so lucky. “

Before the trip, Waerner should undergo a COVID-19 test and collect his dogs from a kennel in Salcha, Alaska, belonging to his compatriot Arleigh Reynolds.

Waerner said he has friends in the Alaskan towns of Ester and Salcha and that he often spends a few days around Fairbanks after the Iditarod. This year, a few days have turned into more than a few weeks, and he is ready to resume his normal life.

“My wife takes care of 35 dogs, children and works as a veterinarian,” he said. Once back home, “” yes, my dear “will be the answer to everything,” he said.

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