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Iditarod underway with Iowa City native competing

Emily Maxwell's family posting updates on Facebook page

Musher Emily Maxwell of Iowa City attends the ceremonial start Saturday of the 46th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in Anchorage, Ala. (David Lienemann/Office of Gov. Bill Walker)
Musher Emily Maxwell of Iowa City attends the ceremonial start Saturday of the 46th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in Anchorage, Ala. (David Lienemann/Office of Gov. Bill Walker)
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IOWA CITY — An Iowa City native’s first Iditarod sled dog race is underway in Alaska while her family is posting updates of her journey on Facebook.

On Sunday, Emily Maxwell, 33, began her first roughly 1,000-mile Iditarod, an annual race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Throughout the journey. her mom, Mary Maxwell, plans to post updates of Team Max the Iowa City 2 Nome Facebook page.

“We’re nervous and a bit anxious about Emily doing this race, but she is so happy and excited that we’re feeling her enthusiasm,” Mary Maxwell said in an email. “I’ll be watching the online tracker nearly continuously.”

As of Monday afternoon, Emily Maxwell had completed about 120 miles of the race, her mother said.

The fastest teams are expected to finish the race in about eight days. In all, 67 mushers registered and Emily Maxwell is one of 16 rookies racing this year — although no rookie has ever won the race.

Mary Maxwell said her daughter has been preparing for the Iditarod more than two years. She was raised in Iowa City and graduated from the University of Iowa before moving to Alaska, where she lives in Willow during the winter and Girdwood during the summer.

Emily Maxwell’s parents are following along with the race through an online subscription package, which includes GPS tracking of each musher. Each tracking device also has an emergency button that mushers can press if they’re in trouble — but using it automatically disqualifies them from the race, Mary Maxwell said.

Typically, a handful of teams scratch because of frostbite, sled crashes, altercations with animals and other issues relating to the cold. Emily Maxwell’s goal is to cross the Burled Arch finish line in Nome with “happy, healthy dogs,” Mary Maxwell said.

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“She’s looking forward to spending time with the dogs she loves so much, meeting the people in the villages, seeing the amazing sights, scenery and experiencing the beautiful Alaskan landscape only accessible by dog sled, snowmobile or airplane,” Mary Maxwell said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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