UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner arrived first into Unalakleet at 10:08 a.m. Sunday morning.
Unalakleet is the first coastal checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail and is considered a second start line for mushers to race up the Being Sea coast to Nome.
The run/rest schedule for teams will be critical for the last 250 miles of the race.
"If you want to win, you have to take some chances," Waerner said. “Maybe it pays off, maybe it doesn’t. That’s part of the game.”
Storms have often been decisive, including for 2018 front-runner Nicolas Petit who lost the trail after Koyuk.
Waerner sounded unfazed by bad weather, saying he was used to it in Norway. "Storm is good, I like storms," he said.
For arriving first into Unalakleet, Waerner received $2,000 in gold nuggets courtesy of Ryan Air.
The musher from Torpa came in with 12 dogs in harness.
His team came in barking loudly and ate well. Waerner said he was happy with how the dogs looked.
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