Iditarod: historic plane to transport Thomas Waerner to Norway after the musher was stranded for months in Alaska

Iditarod: historic plane to transport Thomas Waerner to Norway after the musher was stranded for months in Alaska
It’s been three months for the dog musher Thomas waerner, who tells CNN Sport that it is the kind of story he will remember until the day of his death.
The 47-year-old won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, but canceled flights and travel restrictions prevented her from returning home to her family.

But fear not, the intrepid adventurer has devised an innovative escape plan.

He has booked his passage on a historic plane destined for a Norwegian museum, with his team of dogs for company.

“Winning the race and then getting back on the plane … I think this was one of the great things that happens in life.” Waerner he told CNN Sport in a phone interview.

Iconic Iditarod

The Iditarod is a legendary long distance race that takes place every year on the road between Anchorage and Nome.

The nearly 1,000-mile race covers some of the most extreme terrain on Earth, each team powered by 64 kicked legs and a musher’s stubborn desire.

This year was Waerner’s second stab in the challenging contest, and winning after nine days of hard work was a dream come true for veteran musher, the person driving the sled.

However, since crossing the finish line, he has been hiding with friends in the rural US state. USA While plotting his somewhat unusual route home.

Waerner’s plan was hatched after reading a local airline trying to sell a DC-6 aircraft: a historic plane – to the Museum of Aviation History in Sola, Norway.

The aircraft enjoyed more than 60 years of continuous service, making its maiden voyage in 1946 before flying on three separate continents.

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Coincidentally, Waerner’s friends had connections with the now-owner of the plane and, with the help of his sponsor, managed to snag home on June 2.

Waerner will join those 24 dogs on the plane, 16 of his own and a fellow competitor will leave eight additional.

“Life is a little strange,” he laughed, admitting that the situation was a bit surreal. “But I am a positive and direct guy. If you are only positive, you will always find solutions and overcome your obstacles.”

The Douglas DC-6B Cloudmaster prepares for its last flight in Fairbanks, Alaska, in May.
A man's best friend is ...

‘A strange feeling’

It has been over three months since Waerner left for Alaska. His wife, Guro, had traveled with him, but left early when the pandemic began to take over the world.

Waerner has five children and 35 dogs in Norway, so he knows it has a lot to do with his veterinary wife and children, not to mention a variety of household chores.

“I feel a little bad about having all these jobs and I’m not there to support her at all,” she said. “So it will be good to get home and go back to normal life.”

While stranded on another continent, Waerner has been filling his days by training his dogs and walking with his close friends during what he has called his “retired life in Alaska.”

He keeps in daily contact with his family during video calls and cannot wait to enjoy a coffee with his wife and have dinner with the children again.

With the traditional banquet and Iditarod winner ceremonies postponed due to confinement restrictions, Waerner’s personal victory parade was not exactly what he had envisioned.

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“I really wanted to win the race at some point in my life, and suddenly you do,” he said. “I still have to look at the trophy and remember that we actually won, it’s a strange feeling.”

Waerner during the race in 2020.
Waerner raised his arms triumphantly after winning.

‘You get really strong mentally’

However, his adventure has not taken away the idea of ​​returning to Alaska and he is willing to participate in next year’s Itidarod.

Waerner firmly believes that it is his ability to deal with the challenges posed by Itidarod that has helped him overcome his current situation.

“It is like a wave of negative things that come against you when you run because you have a lot of sleep deprivation,” he reflects.

“You have hot weather, cold weather, it is raining, you are going through bad trails, good trails and things are happening that you have to deal with all the time.”

“I think my long distance running has helped me because you become very strong mentally [in order] to deal with negative things. “

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About the Author: Seth Sale

"Passionate creator. Wannabe travel expert. Reader. Entrepreneur. Zombie aficionado. General thinker."

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