Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race won by Norway’s Thomas Waerner

Most sports are canceled right now due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across Alaska went on mostly as planned, starting on March 8. Early Wednesday morning the race found its winner, as Norwegian Thomas Waerner crossed the finish line. The race, which in total is close to 1,000 miles, took him 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds. This is only his second Iditarod attempt and in 2015 he was named Rookie of the Year and finished the race in 17th place. 

Waerner had a dominant performance, with the closest musher, three-time champion Mitch Seavey, trailing around five hours behind him. After crossing the finish line, he spoke to reporters saying, “This is awesome. This is something special.”

The 47-year-old didn’t take all the credit though, he thanked his 10 dogs and praised their work. His lead dogs, K2 and Bark, got a special shoutout. He described K2 as “an amazing dog. He has this inside engine that never stops.”

Talking about Bark, Waerner noted, “He’s the one just charging through everything. It doesn’t matter what comes, he will just go through it, storms or whatever. So the two together are an amazing team.”

The win comes with pride, a piece of history and a good chunk of dough. Waerner will earn are least $50,000, with the actual amount depending on how many mushers complete the race. He also took home a pickup truck for crossing the finish line first. 

The Iditarod began just north of Anchorage and included 57 mushers who are tasked with crossing two mountain ranges and the frozen Yukon River. The coronavirus outbreak did create the need for some changes, mostly regarding fan interaction and an attempt to create as much social distancing as possible. With some checkpoints being villages, officials had them moved outside of the area so the contact between people would be decreased.

Finishing the Iditarod is no easy task, and already 11 mushers have dropped out. 

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