By Lenn Robbins
The next time I read about a professional athlete under contract for say, $12 million per year who wants to renegotiate, I’m going to introduce him to Thomas Waerner.
Waerner, aka The Ice Warrior, is the winner of the 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Race (just the Iditarod to us groupies). He and his League of Extraordinary Dogs completed the 1,000-mile course in nine days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds, give or take a couple of snowdrifts.
He received the winner’s purse of about, wait for it, $50,000, and possibly a pickup truck. More on that later.
You read that correctly: not five million, or $500,000, rather $50,000. And the truck. Don’t forget the truck. More on that later.
To recap, Waerner traversed the 1,000-mile, brutally cold, windswept journey in nine days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and don’t forget those 47 seconds. Upon crossing the finish line in Nome, Alaska and receiving his bounty, The Ice Warrior, boasted:
“This is a money-spending sport!”
Clearly, these Iditarod athletes are a different breed. And we’re not talking about the dogs.
Despite repeated satellite phone calls and carrier pigeon messages that went unanswered, we believe the dogs’ purse was a chewy toy and nine days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds worth of free Purina Dog Chow as their winner’s purse.
None of the dogs complained.
Because of the Covid-19 virus, which has canceled sporting events all over the world, the Last Great Race on Earth as it’s known, got more media coverage than it has in decades.
It was one of the lead sports stories (one of the only stories) on the 5 p.m. news -in New York. Officials asked fans not to fly to Nome for the finish. We were unable get a non-stop from New York to Nome.
“We mushers are so lucky that we are in our own world,” Waerner told reporters. “We don’t think about anything.”
Probably not enough time to entertain idol thoughts when your sport consumes nine days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds to win.
Of course, the Ice Warrior knows he couldn’t have done it alone. He thanked his 10 dogs, petting and rubbing each. The dogs received a hot snack, which sources told TheNYExtra.com, was a double Shake Shack cheeseburger with grilled onions, and a side of cheese fries.
Still, we’re reminded that success can lead to greed. His lead dogs – K2 and Bark – declined to comment, however, sources say K2 is looking for an increase to K1 and Bark wants to change his name to Loud Bark.
Their agent, Brian “Family Guy” Blue was vague when asked about his client’s demands.
“This has never been about the money,” Blue said. “My clients just want to be shown the respect they’ve worked so hard for and the sacrifice they’ve given to this team.”
Waerner threw his support behind his four-legged friends who dragged his rear end for nine days, 10 hours, 37 minutes… He said that K2 is, “the inside engine that never stops,” and Bark is, “the one just charging through everything.”
Waerner won his first Iditarod in only his second time competing. Three-time champ Mitch Seavey finished second about five hours behind. He will earn about $43,000 for the finish. No truck.
Waerner will have to pay about $20,000 in taxes in Norway on the prize money and about the same for the truck, usually a Ram 2020 4×4 Pickup. But on the Monday before the finish, Fiat Chrysler announced it was dropping its sponsorship. Truck?
The dogs were heard whimpering.
“I was looking forward to doing a Nome bar crawl in that truck,” said K2.
“We should renegotiate,” said Bark.