‘I had to make the difficult decision’: Iditarod Champion Waerner says his team won’t run the race in 2021

Thomas Waerner is the 2020 Iditarod Champion.
Thomas Waerner is the 2020 Iditarod Champion.(KTUU)
Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 2:53 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Iditarod Champion Thomas Waerner says he will not run the 2021 edition of the storied race, citing difficulties with travel including restrictions and limitations triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Waerner said he is choosing not to compete after considering challenges with getting himself and his dog team to Alaska, but that he hopes to be part of the 2022 runnings of the Yukon Quest and Iditarod.

Waerner also said in the post that he plans to run several European races, including the Finnmarksløpet 1200, a 745-mile race he’s won previously.

“I had to make the difficult decision to not start in the Iditarod 2021... hopefully [the team] will be ready for Yukon Quest and Iditarod in 2022.”

- Thomas Waerner, posting to Facebook

After getting stuck in Alaska after this year’s Iditarod, the stars aligned so that Waerner and 24 dogs - most of them his - were able to fly home to Norway on a vintage plane that just so happened to be headed for a museum in Stavanger.

Waerner is one of at least a half dozen Iditarod champions signed up for the 2021 race, which Iditarod officials said they still plan on holding this coming March, though race officials’ “multi-tiered approach” is dependent upon how widespread the virus is as the race gets closer.

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