Thomas Wærner has a clear vision of what his goal is this season however, he does not know whether it can be achieved.
"It is my burning desire to return to Alaska this winter to defend my victory from this year's Iditarod", says Thomas Wærner. However, the COVID pandemic makes travel difficult, especially with 16 dogs. The long flight to Alaska has demanding logistics for the Norwegians who want to participate in the Iditarod. With the current COVID reality, it is far more demanding than before.
I'm not giving up
In previous years, Wærner has had a handful of friends that helped him transport dogs from Oslo via Reykjavik and then on to Seattle with Iceland air.
"There are far too many uncertain factors in flying four different people on four different flights. What I'm working on now is trying to get an agreement with an airline so I can fly all the dogs as cargo in the same plane."
Wærner will receive an answer in November on whether the Iditarod participation will be possible in 2021. He is, as always, optimistic, but still has to admit that he is entering some nerve-wracking weeks.
"I'm not giving up yet. The goal is to get to Alaska. I want to run Iditarod both in 2021 and in 2022", says Wærner.
A winning team
It is no coincidence that these coming seasons he wants to compete in the world's most prestigious sled dog race. Wærner has the best dog team of his life right now, however, many of the dogs are six years old.
Read More: A Dog Team
"Several of my most important dogs are six years old. This means that they have two seasons left, where they can perform at the top. I know I have a winning team right now, and I want us to have the opportunity to take advantage of that."
Looking forward to the Femund race
Wærner is especially looking forward to the Femund race, which this year will be tougher than ever. Participants must manage themselves to a greater extent, as they are not allowed to use any facilities outside the checkpoint.
LEARN MORE: RACES
"It suits me very well that the Femund race becomes tougher and that we have to manage ourselves to a greater extent without outside assistance. Motorhomes, cabins and large handler teams is something new that has become more common in our sport here in Norway in recent years. However, this is not a good development. I look forward to a more social race, where we have to take care of ourselves like in the old days."
Thomas Wærner became a media favorite after he won the Iditarod and later got stuck in Alaska due to the COVID situation. International media such as New York Times, NBC, Fox News and the BBC interviewed him about the special situation and the flight home.
"There were many phone calls and a lot of attention for a while. It was a lot of fun", says Wærner, who is not particularly worried about being stuck in Alaska again.