Thomas Waerner, seen here at the Iditarod restart in Willow, won the 2020 Iditarod.

Five years ago, Thomas Waerner was the Iditarod Rookie of the Year. Now the Norwegian is an Iditarod champion.

Waerner hit the finish line on Front Street in Nome at 12:37 a.m. Wednesday to win the Last Great Race. He finished with 10 dogs. His total time was 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds. He was the rookie of the year after a 17th-place finish in 2015.

Waerner is the third Norweigan to win the Iditarod. Joar Liefseth Ulsom earned the title in 2018 and Robert Sorlie won it all in 2005.

Waerner needed 3 hours and 20 minutes to make the trek from Safety to Nome.

Waerner was the first to reach White Mountain, and received the Northrim Bank Achieve More Award. He hit the checkpoint at 5:35 a.m. Tuesday and was awarded a check for $2,500 and a print courtesy of Anchorage artist Marianne Wieland.

Ramey Smyth, of Willow, was the first Valley musher was the first Valley musher to hit he finish line, placing 11th in the race. Smyth arrived in Nome at 11:52 am. Monday. Fellow Willow musher Wade Marrs was 12 minutes behind Smyth and placed 12th. Ryan Redington, a musher with Valley roots, was eighth. Redington, formerly of Knik, now resides in Skagway.

Past Iditarod champ Mitch Seavey was the runner-up in the 2020 race. Seavey, who sports three titles, reached Nome at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday. Jessie Royer, Brent Sass and Aaron Burmeister rounded out the top 5.

Seventeen mushers scratched as of Wednesday.

Contact the Frontiersman at

Load comments