North Dakota man competing in 9th Iditarod

Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 4:17 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2023 at 8:52 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Each year brave mushers battle Alaska’s weather to compete in the annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska. This year a native North Dakotan is getting ready to compete in his ninth Iditarod.

These are some of the views Kelly Maixner gets to see while he trains each day and being from North Dakota, it’s not something he thought he would ever do.

“No, growing up in North Dakota I never imagined that I’d even step foot in the state of Alaska, so it’s not something that was on my radar at all growing up,” said Maixner.

Maixner is originally from Beach and moved to Alaska in 2007 and knew racing dogs were for him.

“Ever since I moved to Alaska, I’ve always loved mushing and dogs. I wanted to do it instantly. Iditarod is just a unique experience,” said Maixner.

During the race, he will use 14 sled dogs, that have been bred and trained to compete. The bloodline of the dogs goes back to village dogs thousands of years ago, and along his journey, he gets to see lots of the villages.

“The native villages are really cool. and the native people out in the villages are so welcoming and they just love having us out there. It’s part of their tradition and when we come through, they treat us so well. And it’s just, it’s a cool, cool thing to be out there because they’re very isolated people,” said Maixner.

His first race was in 2011, and before the race starts, he and his dogs put in 3,000-4,000 miles.

“The hardest part is the mental part of it, and physically it’s hard too. I probably during the race run 15-20 miles a day,” said Maixner.

As for the dogs, he describes it as them always getting to play a game of fetch, but making sure they don’t over-exhaust themselves. Maixner had his best race in 2015 when he placed 13th. The annual race will start on March 4 for its 51st anniversary.