Stranded in Alaska, adventurer hitches lift home — with 24 dogs

It is been relatively a 3 months for canine musher Thomas Waerner, who tells CNN Game it is the type of a tale he’s going to take note till the day he dies.
The 47-year-old gained the Iditarod Path Sled Canine Race in March, however canceled flights and trip restrictions have avoided him from returning house to his circle of relatives.

However worry now not, the intrepid adventurer has get a hold of an cutting edge break out plan.

He is booked his passage on a ancient plane destined for a Norwegian museum, together with his workforce of canines for corporate.

“Profitable the race after which going again at the aircraft … I feel this used to be one of the vital cool issues that occur in lifestyles,” Waerner informed CNN Game in a telephone interview.
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Iconic Iditarod

The Iditarod is a mythical long-distance race held yearly at the path between Anchorage and Nome.

The just about 1,000-mile race covers one of the crucial maximum excessive terrains on Earth, every workforce powered by means of 64 booted paws and a musher’s dogged need.

This yr used to be Waerner’s 2nd stab on the difficult contest and profitable after 9 days of laborious paintings used to be a dream come true for the veteran musher — the one who drives the sled.

Since crossing the end line, then again, he has been holed up with buddies within the rural US state while he plotted his quite odd direction house.

Waerner’s plan used to be hatched after he learn an area airline used to be seeking to promote a DC-6 plane — a ancient airliner — to The Museum of Aviation Historical past in Sola, Norway.

The aircraft loved greater than 60 years of constant provider, making its maiden voyage in 1946 earlier than flying in 3 separate continents.

Coincidentally, Waerner’s buddies had connections with the aircraft’s now proprietor and, with assist from his sponsor, he is controlled to join a boost house on June 2.

Waerner shall be joined at the plane by means of the ones 24 canines — 16 of his personal and an extra 8 left at the back of by means of a fellow competitor.

“Lifestyles is a bit ordinary,” he laughed, admitting the placement used to be all just a little surreal. “However I’m a ahead, certain man. In case you are simply certain you are going to at all times in finding answers and you are going to triumph over your stumbling blocks.”

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The Douglas DC-6B Cloudmaster prepares for its last flight in Fairbanks, Alaska, in May. The Douglas DC-6B Cloudmaster prepares for its last flight in Fairbanks, Alaska, in May.
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‘A ordinary feeling’

It is been greater than 3 months since Waerner left for Alaska. His spouse, Guro, had traveled with him however left early when the pandemic started to grasp the sector.

Waerner has 5 kids and 35 canines again in Norway so he is mindful he has a large number of catching as much as do together with his veterinarian spouse and children — now not forgetting an collection of family tasks.

“I think a bit dangerous for her having most of these jobs and I am not there to strengthen her in any respect,” he stated.”So it’s going to be great to get house and get again to customary lifestyles.”

While stranded on any other continent, Waerner has been filling his days by means of coaching his canines and strolling together with his shut buddies all over what he is dubbed his “retired lifestyles in Alaska.”

He remains in day by day touch together with his circle of relatives over video calls and cannot wait to experience espresso together with his spouse and dinner with the children once more.

With the normal Iditarod winner’s ceremonial dinner and ceremonies postponed as a result of lockdown restrictions, Waerner’s private victory parade hasn’t been relatively what he had imagined.

“I in point of fact sought after to win the race at one level in my lifestyles, and then you definately unexpectedly do it,” he stated. “I nonetheless have to take a look at the trophy and take note we in reality did win, it is more or less a ordinary feeling.”

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

‘You get in point of fact robust mentally’

Alternatively, his journey hasn’t put him off the speculation of returning to Alaska and he’s keent to take part in subsequent yr’s Itidarod.

Waerner firmly believes it is his talent to care for the demanding situations posed by means of the Itidarod that has helped him triumph over his present quandary.

“It is like a wave of adverse issues coming towards you if you find yourself racing as a result of you’ve such a lot sleep deprivation,” he displays.

“You might have heat climate, chilly climate, it is raining, you are going thru dangerous trails, excellent trails and issues are going down that you must care for at all times.

“I feel my long-distance occupation has helped me since you get in point of fact robust mentally [in order] to care for adverse issues.”

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