Hugh Neff first in Dawson
Hugh Neff struck gold in Dawson Monday afternoon.
DAWSON CITY – Hugh Neff struck gold in Dawson Monday afternoon.
The defending champion cruised down Front Street into the last Canadian checkpoint of the Yukon Quest at 1:10 p.m.
Despite holding a wide lead for much of the first half of the race, Neff told reporters he still believes this is Allen Moore’s race to win.
“Allen Moore’s got the team to beat,” he said. “I just wanted to get the gold. He’s definitely been taking more rest and just waiting. He really wants to win after last year. If he wins, good for him. I would have no problem with that, but I wanted to get here first. I’ve still got a long way to go. I don’t really consider myself to be in the lead. I just know I got the gold.”
Neff was the first to enter Dawson two years ago, but a late-race scratch meant he could not collect his winnings. To collect his four gold nuggets – worth $6,700 – Neff needs to finish the race.
“Dawson’s like my spiritual home man. I love Dawson,” Neff said of the gold rush town, known in it’s heyday as the Paris of the North. “I grew up in Chicago, but this city blows away Chicago to me.”
After taking care of his dogs, Neff said he’d be heading to the Pit – a popular local watering hole.
Neff said his dog team was attacked by three stray dogs at the base of King Solomon’s Dome. Neff said a snowmachine with a paddle track had also torn apart a portion of the trail.
“It’s been an interesting day,” Neff said. “It took me a while to get here. I thought , ‘Is this the way they treat the first guy in?’”
Neff said both he and his dogs were holding up well in the early going.
“Five-energy shots do me a world of difference.”