July 15, 2018

Musher Details

2019 Iditarod » Mushers » Jessica Klejka

Jessica Klejka

Hometown: Wasilla, Alaska


Biography

Jessica Klejka, 29, was born and raised in Bethel, Alaska. She grew up mushing with her six younger siblings and her family’s dog team. Her love for dogs started at a young age and grew with the help of her best friend-a street mutt names Jed. She actually started mushing using small teams from her father’s recreational team and going out with her brothers and sisters while her dad was at work. When she was 12, she became obsessed with dog racing and after watching mushers in the Kusko 300 each year, decided that someday, she’d run the Iditarod. Jessica spent her childhood and high school years training with a sibling or two in her sled and entering as many of the local Kuskokwim 300 races as she could. Her first long distance race was the Kuskokwim 300 Race Committee’s annual 100 mile campout race when she was 12 years old. She realized that the strongest bond you can ever have with a dog is when you and the dog our out on the trail for multiple days together. While still in High School, she won the Jr. Iditarod and decided she wanted to go to UAF in Fairbanks so she could continue mushing during school breaks, flying home for dog races and house sitting in Fairbanks local teams. She worked in the summers on Norris Glacier for Alaska-Helimush and was lucky enough to take her dog team down with her every summer. After graduating from UAF, Jessica went to the University of Washington Vet School to learn the science and medicine behind caring for and racing sled dogs, and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree there in 2016. My first year as a veterinarian, I worked at Palmer Vet Clinic and my husband, Sam, and I built a tree house out in Pt. Mackenzie where we lived off the grid with 15 of my family’s sled dogs. My brothers and sisters are now scattered around the State but continue to play a big part in my dog racing. This past winter, with their help and Sam’s, I was able to work full-time and still train and qualify for the Iditarod. Jessica enjoys running, hiking, camping, flying with her husband, Sam and caring for their hobby farm of chickens and their pet Flemish Giant rabbits, and reading.