Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race
As the Percy DeWolfe is unable to follow the traditional race route from Dawson to Eagle in and back in 2021 due to COVID travel restrictions, it has been decided that the race will follow a loop starting at the Top of the World Highway (TOTW) in West Dawson, then following the Top of the World Highway to Clinton Creek Road. The trail will then follow Clinton Creek Road down onto the Fortymile River at Clinton Creek and head down the Fortymile to the confluence with the Yukon River. The race checkpoint will be at Forty Mile where mushers will take a minimum 6 hours rest and will be expected to be entirely self-sufficient in terms of their abilities to feed and look after their teams and themselves. The race will then follow the Yukon River back into Dawson to finish on the river near town. The overall race distance will be 110 miles.
Although the first 36 miles of the race will be on the TOTW Highway it must be noted that this is wild, remote and exposed country. From Dawson, the trail will quickly gain 2300 feet of elevation within approximately the first 6 miles of leaving Dawson and in doing so will depart the shelter of the tree line. Until the turning onto Clinton Creek Road at approximately mile 37 the trail remains at an elevation of between 3300 and 4000 ft, follows rolling hills with some steep climbs and is at all times highly exposed to the elements. Although the race will endeavour to maintain a trail, participants should be aware that the weather and trail conditions can deteriorate rapidly on the Highway with the potential for a great deal of side-hilling, drifting snow and loss of trail mixed with head winds and extremely poor visibility. Once on the Clinton Creek Road the trail will lose 2300 ft of elevation over the next 30 miles with the trail quickly becoming much less exposed. For the Fortymile and Yukon River sections, participants should expect a mixture of shelf-ice, jumble ice, and overflow; it is approximately 2 miles from Clinton Creek to Forty Mile and 50 miles from Forty Mile to Dawson. Since there will be no Yukon Quest trail put in, mushers must expect to experience a more challenging wilderness race this year.
Mushers must provide their own straw at Forty Mile and teams will be expected to camp a minimum of 6ft apart and there will be no sleeping quarters provided for mushers; mushers must be prepared to bed down with their teams. Although the Percy DeWolfe will endeavour to make water available for dog food, this cannot be guaranteed and so mushers must carry sufficient fuel in order to melt snow for their dogs and themselves. There will be no food provided for mushers at Forty Mile; sled bags will be checked prior to the start to ensure mushers are carrying sufficient food for themselves and their dogs. As with the traditional race there will be a nine dog maximum limit and although there will be veterinarian cover at Forty Mile, there will be no facility for dropping dogs at the checkpoint.
Although only a relatively short race, nonetheless the terrain, potential weather, exposed nature of the trail and the requirements imposed by COVID19 means that the 2021 Percy DeWolfe Memorial Sled Dog race will be fun and unique, but also very challenging and mushers will be expected to prepare themselves, and their teams, to meet this challenge. The 2021 Percy DeWolfe will however, offer mushers the opportunity to run dogs through some amazing wilderness rarely accessed in winter.