Virus strands Norway racer in Alaska after Iditarod win

Thomas Waerner won this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, but he is still waiting to return to his home in Norway

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Thomas Waerner won this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, but he is still waiting to return to his home in Norway.

“I like Alaska a lot,” Waerner said. “It’s kind of my dream place. But I have a family.”

The 47-year-old plans to fly home in early June on a DC-6 aircraft bound for the Air History Museum in Sola, Norway.

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

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

Prior to the trip Waerner is expected to undergo a COVID-19 test and collect his dogs from a kennel in Salcha owned by fellow musher Arleigh Reynolds.

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

“My wife has been taking care of 35 dogs, the kids, and working as a veterinarian,” he said. Once he returns home, “ ‘yes, dear,’ will be the answer for everything,” he said.