Thomas Waerner Wins the 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Thiessen/AP/Shutterstock (6100630b) Volunteers help raise the Iditarod finishers banner at the burled arch finish line, in Nome, Alaska. The winner of the thousand-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across Alaska is expected this week, possibly early Wednesday morning Iditarod, Nome, USA
Mark Thiessen/AP/Shutterstock

With the sports world ground to a halt, all eyes were on Alaska for the results of the 48th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Musher Thomas Waerner of Norway won the event early Wednesday, crossing the finish line with 10 of his sled dogs to become just the fourth non-Alaskan athlete to win the race.

The 47-year-old Waerner finished the race in 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes, 47 seconds in his second time running in the Iditarod. Waerner is the third musher from Norway to win the race, joining fellow countrymen Robert Sorlie (2003 and 2005) and Joar Leifseth Ulsom (2018) as winners.

The Iditarod was one of the few sports events around the world to not be called off or postponed during the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. While events like the “Meet the Musher” and post-race celebrations were canceled, mushers weren’t in much danger, as they were all separated by dozens, if not hundreds of miles, during the race. The fans at the finish line were limited by race officials due to the outbreak.

“We mushers are so lucky that we are in our own world,” Waerner told the Anchorage Daily News after the race. “We don’t think about anything. We just think about the dogs and the trail and the next checkpoint and the next thing you are going to do. “So you are in, what do you call it, this balloon. You’re in a bubble.”

Mitch Seavey of Seward, Alaska came in second place after finishing six hours behind Waerner, while Jessie Royer of Fairbanks, Alaska finished a little over an hour after that.

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