Iditarod veteran Hugh Neff says he was denied entry to 2023 race
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Veteran musher Hugh Neff was denied entry for the 2023 Iditarod by the Iditarod Trail Committee, he said in a Facebook post Friday afternoon.
“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Iditarod rejected my entry,” he wrote in the social post. “Pretty sad when one of the finest teams in Alaska is not allowed to go to Nome. There’s other races to enjoy but this definitely isn’t the same Event that Joe Redington created. A sad day for Alaskan mushing history. God Bless Jim Lanier Northern Whites kennel.”
Neff scratched while in third place at the Ruby checkpoint in the 2022 race due to concern for his team. Neff says he was forced to scratch, while Iditarod officials disagreed.
Neff, who has completed 13 Iditarod since 2004, was also denied entry to the 2019 race due to lack of dog care during the 2018 Yukon Quest where one of his dogs died of aspiration.
In an interview Alaska’s News Source on Thursday — the Iditarod 2023 sign up deadline — Neff was asked his response if the Iditarod were to deny his entry.
“To be quite honest, if they don’t allow me to do the race for some reason — which I couldn’t figure out what it could be, but you never know, politics is politics — I am just going to have to move on and do other races,” Neff said.
“Like I said earlier, it is more about these dogs deserving the chance to be in this race, because I have a really beautiful dog team, and I have been doing this a long time and these are primarily girl dogs, the Northern Whites, and I just think we could have fun.”
Neff confirmed that he planned to run mushing legend Jim Lanier’s dogs as he did in the 2022 race.
”I already made a deal with Jim Lanier, I have already decided I am not going to be racing the race the is year, I just want to be on the trail and I just want to go to Nome and honor people like Hobo Jim and Lance Mackey — we have lost a lot of amazing people in the last couple of years in Alaska,” Neff said on Thursday. ”Jim Lanier said I am not allowed to race the race — because everyone knows I am quite competitive — until I get to Unalakleet, and then I am allowed.”
The current field for the 2023 Iditarod following the sign-up deadline features 34 mushers with the 1,049-mile journey to Nome set to begin March 5.
Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.