Evanston native wins international sled dog race

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WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Far from his native Chicagoland, a local man has won the top prize in an international sled dog race.

Hugh Neff, 48, captured victory Monday at the 2016 Yukon Quest. Neff, a native of suburban Evanston and graduate of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, crossed the finish line first behind his nine dogs after a 1,000-mile race from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon.

According to the Newsminer in Alaska, Neff’s team completed the trail in 9 days, 1 hour, 25 minutes, the fourth-fasted race ever. The victory earned Neff $25,000.

Neff, now of Tok, Alaska, is a Chicago Bears fans and has in the past had one of his dogs named after the legendary Walter Payton.  This year his 8-year-old dog, George Constanza, named after the “Seinfeld” character, led the way. It was the second victory in the Yukon Quest for Neff. The first, according to Newsminer, was won by a slim 26 seconds.

“I wanted to prove to people that it was more than just luck,” Neff said. “I think I put that baby to bed.”

According to Newsminer a crowd of hundreds, as well as chilled steak, awaited Neff and his dogs at the finish line. The dogs “eagerly devoured it piece by piece,” according to the report.

Neff also competes in the Iditarod sled dog race. According to his bio, Neff moved to Alaska in 1995. He worked as a golf caddy in Evanston and attended the University of Illinois before leaving the state.