Jason Biasetti, seen here at the Two Rivers checkpoint of the 2019 Yukon Quest, won his third-straight Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race on March 22 after reaching the finish line at 8:24 a.m. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

Trail conditions force reroute of 2019 Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race

The race ran along the Clinton Creek Road rather than into Eagle, Alaska, due to rough conditions

The annual Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race started March 21 in Dawson City when 16 mushers took to the trail headed for Eagle, Alaska, and back in what is typically a 200-mile (320-kilometre) race.

This year due to bad trail conditions downriver from Forty Mile, the route was changed to send mushers 22 miles (35 km) along the Clinton Creek Road and back again before returning to Dawson, shortening the overall race down to approximately 150 miles (240 km).

Jason Biasetti won for the third year in a row, finishing the race at 8:24 a.m. on March 22.

Coady Lee finished second in this year’s race and Jerry Joinson rounded out the podium in third.

Anna Claxton, president of the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race Committee, said that conditions deteriorated quickly in the lead up to the start.

“River conditions below Forty Mile – from Forty Mile to Eagle, and particularly right near Eagle and getting from the River to Eagle – got really bad, really fast,” said Claxton.

The changes came so suddenly that a number of mushers didn’t find out about the revised route until the pre-race mushers meeting.

“They were all on the drive to Dawson, so there was no way for them to pick up that information,” said Claxton. “Everybody right away was just like, of course that’s what you had to do. This is now the race route, so this is what we’re going to do.”

The new route added a significant climb and descent to the race on top of cutting off a quarter of the length, but if it bothered mushers they didn’t show it.

“Everybody was really just like, ‘OK. This is it. Let’s do this thing,’” said Claxton. “That’s really what sticks out – just the good spirit of everybody involved.”

Credit for the race running so smoothly, Claxton said, is with the community.

“Anybody who’s spent any time here knows this is just a community that gets stuff done,” said Claxton. “We put the route changes into place 24 hours before the start and then that produced a whole bunch of different logistical and organizational challenges for us that we just had to solve immediately to get the race off on time. The community really stepped up and was behind us.”

Volunteers, vets and officials at the Forty Mile checkpoint probably worked between 18 and 20 hours straight, said Claxton.

“(That) is not normally the case – not what they signed up for,” said Claxton. “Everybody just did is so enthusiastically and without complaint.”

This year’s rookie of the year was 46-year-old Pierre Boudreau.

In addition to winning the race, Biasetti also won the sportsmanship award.

Second-place finisher Lee won the vet care award.

In the Percy Junior, which goes from Dawson to Forty Mile and back, this year’s winner was Craig Houghton. Gatean Pierrard was second and Annika Wahlisch was third.

The Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race started in 1977 as a way to pay tribute to Percy DeWolfe who carried mail between Dawson and Eagle from 1910 to 1949 via dog team horse and boat.

Usually, people can buy envelopes over the summer that are then shipped to Eagle during the race as a fundraiser for the race.

“The way it’s supposed to work is the mail gets carried to Eagle by dog team, which of course didn’t happen this year because the dog teams didn’t go to Eagle,” said Claxton, adding some people were a bit disappointed the mail didn’t get through this year but that it was still very much in the spirit of DeWolfe.

“John Borg, the former postmaster in Eagle, … reminded us (DeWolfe) himself only carried the mail to Forty Mile in the last year of his contract, so it’s still true to the spirit of Percy and what we’re trying to do in remembering him in the community.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race results

1 Jason Biasetti<br>2 Coady Lee<br>3 Jerry Joinson<br>4 Magnus Kaltenborn<br>5 Nathaniel Hamlyn<br>6 Katherine Scheck<br>7 Pierre Boudreau<br>8 Deke Naaktgeboren<br>9 Damon Ranmaker<br>10 Susannah Tuminelli<br>11 Paul Hamlyn<br>12 Louve Tweddell<br>13 Lori Tweddell<br>14 Philip Johannes Hanke<br>DNF Alexandra Rochat<br>DNF Melissa Schenke

Percy Junior results

1 Craig Houghton<br>2 Gaetan Pierrard<br>3 Annika Wahlisch<br>4 Claudia Beer<br>5 Jess Sears<br>6 Matt Anfinson<br>7 Kathleen Frederick<br>8 Danny Dowhal

Just Posted

It’s a long summer ahead for Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens

“My phone is going to be absolutely blowing up when I check it.”

YG is ‘failing’ First Nations students, says chair of the Chiefs Committee on Education

Bob Dickson said the territorial government’s unilateral approach to education ‘doesn’t fly’ anymore

Yukon’s Dylan Cozens selected by the Buffalo Sabres seventh overall in the NHL draft

Cozens is the first Yukoner to be selected in the first round of the draft

Man fined after unsuccessfully arguing Yukon driving laws don’t apply to him

Christopher Brown was found guilty of four charges under the Motor Vehicles Act on June 20

Letter: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day

Celebrated on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day is around the corner.… Continue reading

City news, briefly

A summary of some of the issues discussed at the June 17 Whitehorse city council meeting

Whitehorse training conference highlighted trans health care needs

The conference, hosted by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, was June 13-15

COMMENTARY: Foreign funding for local environmental groups no conspiracy

Foreign funding doesn’t mean activism isn’t locally grown, says CPAWS Yukon’s executive director

Letter: Yukoners want ‘climate action now’

Yukoners Concerned are excited that despite the basketball game on TV, over… Continue reading

Letter: Cars and bikes — let’s take care of each other

As a dedicated long-time cyclist who has plied the Alaska Highway route… Continue reading

Letter: Flag gone missing on the Chilkoot Trail

Note: a copy of this letter has been sent to Christopher Hunter,… Continue reading

Yukon Orienteering Championships continue with sprint races

Held over three weeks, the championships include middle-distance, sprint and long-distance races

Most Read