Hugh Neff is latest musher to scratch from Iditarod
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage musher Hugh Neff has scratched from the 2022 Iditarod at the Ruby checkpoint due to concern for his team, becoming the fourth musher to withdraw their team from this year’s race.
Anja Radano and Ryne Olson were the first two mushers to scratch, on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Rookie Julie Ahnen scratched on Friday morning.
“In conjunction with Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman, Neff made the decision to scratch due to their concern for his race team,” an Iditarod spokesperson said in an email.
Neff’s dog team was running in third place on Friday morning. He had arrived in Ruby at 8:16 a.m. with 11 dogs on the line. Neff dropped a dog from his team at the McGrath, Ophir, and Cripple checkpoints after starting with 14, and the Iditarod announced that Neff had scratched at 11:40 a.m.
Neff was born in Tennessee and began mushing dogs in 1995 when he moved to Alaska. Currently based in Anchorage, Neff is running a team of dogs from Jim Lanier’s Northern Whites Kennel to “honor the legacy of Hobo Jim as well as all of the original Iditarod mushers and what they stood for,” according to his Iditarod biography page.
Neff is a two-time Yukon Quest champion and has competed in the Iditarod 14 times, finishing 13. His best finish was fifth place in 2011 and he last raced the Iditarod in 2018 prior to this year.
In February of 2018, Neff’s dog Boppy died during the Yukon Quest due to aspiration. The subsequent necropsy of the dog revealed other health issues, and Neff was barred from racing in the Yukon Quest, the Iditarod, and the Two Rivers 200 for 2019.
Neff returned to race in the Yukon Quest after his suspension, and this was the first year he returned to the Iditarod.
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