From Kyle Hopkins in Nome --
2012 Yukon Quest champion Hugh Neff just arrived in 17th place, passing under the burled arch minutes after Canadian musher Michelle Phillips.
I asked Neff what his expectations had been for the Iditarod, given he'd won the arguably tougher Quest just weeks before.
"Obviously, everybody was building up me trying to win this race as well," Neff said. "But 150 miles into the race realized that not too many people can win the Iditarod with a bunch of 2-year-olds and yearlings in their team. It's really not feasible."
"I had some issues with dogs getting cramped up with dehydration," Neff said. "Once I got that straightened out, we started to boogie on down the trail again."
Neff was forced to bag a dog on two consecutive runs, he said, bad news for anyone looking for the kind of crisp, efficient runs that win the race.
With a Dallas Seavey win, the next generation of mushers will be even gunning for the 40-somethings even harder, Neff said.
"An old 44-year-old like me is going to have to learn to take care of himself," said the Tok musher, who arrived wearing his trademark Cat in the Hat cap.
Neff's finish will earn him a $12,300 Iditarod paycheck. (Phillips receives $13,600 for 16th place.)
And, yes, Neff arrived wearing his striped Cat in the Hat cap.
Neff finished 5th in the 2011 Iditarod.