Thomas Waerner, of Norway, celebrates in Nome his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Waerner is still waiting to return to his home in Norway. Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (Marc Lester | Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)

Thomas Waerner, of Norway, celebrates in Nome his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Waerner is still waiting to return to his home in Norway. Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (Marc Lester | Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)

Virus strands Norway racer in Alaska after Iditarod win

Man and 16 dogs been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations.

  • Monday, May 25, 2020 11:51am
  • Sports

ANCHORAGE — 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.

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

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

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

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.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.

• This is an Associated Press report.

More in Sports

Associated Press
                                In this March 2017 photo, volunteer handlers guide teams out of the dog yard and down the chute to the starting line of the 45th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Fairbanks, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race will go forward in 2021, and officials are preparing for every potential contingency now for what the coronavirus and the world might look like in March when the Iditarod starts.
Iditarod preps for any scenario as 2021 race plans proceed

The world’s most famous sled dog race will go forward in 2021.

The Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance and City and Borough of Juneau are collaborating to finish a new pump track for bicycle riders in Cope Park, due to be finished within weeks, Sept. 16, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Outdoors pump track work is ramping up

Cope Park is about to have a new way to keep entertained.

Coach Merry Ellefson compliments runners on a job well done after a race. (Courtesy Photo / Debbie Lowenthall)
Long-distance running meets socially distanced competition

Team spirit carries Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School’s runners on where others falter.

Matt Boline demonstrates a drill during a recent workout with players in the 12-and-under group workout at Treadwell Ice Arena. (Courtesy Photo / Steve Quinn)
Photos: It’s heating up on the ice

Juneau Douglas Ice Association’s youth hockey season is underway at Treadwell Ice Arena.

Alan Stuart/Pair of Thieves 
                                This photo shows Doug Peterson posed recently in Pacific City, Ore., next to the camper van that will accompany him on a nearly 1,500-mile bike ride to raise awareness for National Suicide Prevention Month. Peterson is riding his bike from the Canadian border to the Mexican border during the month of September, raising money with the support of apparel company Pair of Thieves and awareness for National Suicide Prevention Month.
Oregon man rides from Canada to Mexico for suicide awareness

He will ride across the country during National Suicide Prevention Month.

Capital Kennel Club of Juneau stays dogged, holds first post-pandemic trials

Past events had been scratched — and not behind the ears.

Runners jog through a haze of colored powder as they begin a 5k run through downtown Juneau on Sunday, April 29, 2018. (Richard McGrail / Juneau Empire File)
Some local color: Downtown run is coming up

DBA partnered with the J-D Cross Country team will host the 2020 DBA Color Run.

Israeli Olympic racewalker Shaul Ladany holds his 1972’s Olympic race shoes for a portrait in Omer, Israel, Sunday, July 12, 2020. In an instant, the world record holder in the 50-mile walk was thrust into one of sports’ greatest tragedies and a seminal moment in modern history _ the kidnapping and massacre of his fellow Israeli team members at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The killing shocked the world, gave the Palestinian cause an audience and ushered in a new era of global terrorism. Ladany, a Holocaust survivor, the lessons still linger. He says it taught him to “never be afraid” but become “more careful.”(AP Photo / Ariel Schalit)
Israeli racewalker recalls surviving 1972 Munich massacre

In an instant, he was thrust into one of sports’ greatest tragedies.

Linda Kruger approaches Father Brown’s Cross and the finish of the Juneau Trail and Road Runners Mount Roberts Tram Run on Mount Roberts Trail. The event sponsored annually by the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway. (Courtesy Photo | Jeff Gnass)
Dozens participate in distanced Mount Roberts Trail run

Fastest time was just over 24 minutes.

Courtesy photo | Alexandra Razor 
                                Former members of the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé softball team will play an alumni game on Sunday to raise money for travel and equipment for the team.
JDHS softball team to hold alumni game

It might be the first alumni game held by the JDHS softball team.