“The Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race began back in 1977 as a way to honour the legendary Percy DeWolfe, who courageously carried mail by dog team, horse and boat between Dawson City, YT and Eagle, AK, from 1910 and 1949.” John Gould
So reads the late John Gould’s short history of the contest.
The race is a 210 mile (338 km) run from Dawson to Eagle, Alaska, and back, and is a qualifying race for those hoping to run the Yukon Quest or the Iditarod.
This year the race will launch from the Old Dawson Post Office on King Street on Thursday, March 22 at 10 a.m., when musher number one, “the spirit of Percy”, will head off down the street followed, at two minute intervals, by the rest of the pack. Musher number two will carry the official mail pouch, filled with the special “Send a Letter by Dog Team” envelopes that are part of the event’s fund raising efforts and remain available until a few days before the race.
Other fundraising included a number of successful summer barbecues, the food concession during the Yukon Quest, and the Mail Trail Club. For the latter, the trail is divided into 40 five-mile sections and people or organizations can sponsor them at $100 each. There are full descriptions of the sections on the Percy’s Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/PercyDeWolfe).
The Percy Junior Race, which is 100 miles (160 km) to Fortymile and return from either Dawson or Eagle, will begin near the ferry landing in Dawson at 3 p.m.
Anna Claxton reports that the year’s fund raising has gone well and that the group has the $10,000 prize money, which will be divided by percentages, beginning with 30 per cent to first place, down to 5.5 per cent for seventh place.Prize money for the Percy Junior is a separate pot; it comes from a percentage of the total entry fees.
Claxton reports that the Yukon River trail into Alaska is said to be in good shape down river this year and that 10 teams have already confirmed registration for this year’s race. The deadline for signing up is March 15, three days after this interview, and she says that several other people have shown an interest.
Once again this year it will be possible to follow the progress of the two races by means of the spot trackers. The live tracking option is available from the Percy’s website (www.ThePercy.com).
“(The tracking) makes the race more of a spectator sport,” she said, “instead of just watching them leave and watching them come back 20 hours later.”
On the day of this interview the temperatures ranged from -14°C to +1°C. The committee doesn’t want it to be too cold or too warm. Right around -20° with no wind is the best sort of race day, but it’s very unpredictable.
“The weather could do anything between now and then. And I think over the years it has done everything from rain to blizzard.”
Most everyone will have returned to Dawson by the evening of March 23, and the event will wrap up with a banquet and awards night on the Saturday, after people have had a chance to catch their breath.