Some enterprising Yukoners have put the purse back into the Percy.
On Friday, the Yukon News reported that the 30th Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race would be run without a cash purse.
But that changed over the weekend with a simple phone call from the partner a race participant.
Ann Ledwidge, who operates Stardust Kennels and the Dog House in Dawson City with her partner, Peter, phoned Jon Rudolph, the owner of Golden Hill Ventures in Whitehorse and Ross Mining near Dawson.
“He gave us $5,000 for the purse,” said Ledwidge. “And then Don Smith of TSL Contractors matched that with another $5,000.”
The entire $10,000 will go towards prizes for the top seven mushers, she said.
The top three mushers to run the 28- to 30- hour return trip to Eagle from Dawson City along the Yukon River will receive $3,000, $2,000 and $1,500 for their efforts.
In the past, Rudolph and Smith had considered sponsoring the race when they realized it was approaching bankruptcy after poor management practices and a bag of cash went missing during last year’s mushing world championships.
The $12,000 in missing lottery money remains under police investigation.
“The money that went missing was the money that broke that camel’s back — it’s bullshit,” said Rudolph. “It was just absolutely devastating.”
But it wasn’t until Ledwidge made the call on Saturday that Rudolph was prompted to kick in the cash.
“We should put up the money for the purse to show we honestly care,” said the former musher, who has lived in the territory for 35 years.
Rudolph ran the Percy three times — from 1983 to 1985.
He also ran the Yukon Quest in 1985 and 1986, and worked either as a race marshal or judge for the Quest until 1991.
The Percy is longstanding tradition that needs Yukoners’ support, said Rudolph.
“It’s a real great mid-distance race. It’s got a bit of everything: glare ice, great people, great organizers. The people in Eagle are just fantastic.”
Rudolph recently purchased Ross Mining from Norm Ross, who retired last autumn.
He will employ 25 or 26 people at the mine this summer, which is approximately an hour southeast of Dawson on Dominion Creek, he said.
“It’s almost an institution here, it’s got a long history,” he said of the race.
Dawson’s recent hard times need to be turned around, he added.
“It needs to get over the negative stigma. A lot of people feel defeated up there and it’s really unfair.”
The entrance fee to enter the Percy is $100. The race begins on Thursday at 10 a.m. on the Yukon River in front of Dawson City.
For race updates or registration information, go to www.thepercy.com.