Friday, February 24, 2017

Canadian Challenge: It Ain't Over Yet

The front runners are in and whether they are racing for a photo finish to cross the line or have hours ahead on their competition it is always exciting to see how it all unfolds.

Personally sadness washes over me when I see the crowds disperse and the followers on line disappear. Comments about how it's over and see you next year appear.

NO!  It's NOT over, not by a long shot.

Under cover of the dark early morning, Randy Mackenzie crept over the thresh hold at 3:01 to claim fourth place, and well deserved too.  If you check his run times they are in the top 3, way to go my man, well done.
Randy crosses for 4th
Photo Credit: Jim Williams

The coldest part of the morning at 5:56, saw Remy Leduc make his way happily across the finish line claiming fifth place.
 After traveling all the way from New Brunswick he must be feeling pretty pleased with himself.  Excellent work Remy, Congratulations!

There are still mushers out on those trails.

Darren Haas is on his way to La Ronge for a sixth place finish in his first race ever.  He still has about 14 miles to go, and just checking his tracker he has stopped.
I picture him snacking his team, giving them their final pep talk, maybe at this point removing any booties to give the dogs freedom to grab at the snow and ice as they make their way home.

Christina Traverse resting in Stanley Mission opted for a long break over night to run in the light of the day for a secured seventh place.
Christina is still working her way home
Photo Credit: Kandis Riese

And the original mountain man, Steven Laviolette, sits in the red lantern position having arrived at Stanley Mission early this morning at around 4:30.  I suspect he will be home to La Ronge just in time for dinner and to blow the lantern out closing the 20th anniversary of the Canadian Challenge.

The back end of the race is to me what distance mushing is all about.   Yes, it would be amazing to be in the top end of a race, what an incredible feeling that would be.
Working with a champion team and seeing them cross that finish line in first place is a fantastic feeling, I cried tears of joy.  (actually I cried at everything at that particular race, so it's a little unfair that I say this)  In any case, it IS a pretty fantastic high.

There is just something about the determination and drive that keeps mushers and their teams running the trails when the spectators have left and only a few scattered well wishers line the trail.
It has nothing to do with racing anymore, at least not against any competitor.  It has everything to do with that inner feeling of accomplishment.  To say they did it.

Which now brings me to the heart ache that is left out on the trails as well.
Joshua Lichti scratched  at Grandmothers Bay having arrived just after midnight with 10 dogs on the line.   Something had to be amiss as it took him almost 15 hours to arrive.
Word is Joshua and his dogs are all doing well.  Sometimes the dogs decide when it is time to end a race, they've had their fun and a good musher will be able to see that in his team, a better musher knows when to let them finish.

The race is not over, so much can still happen out there.

Good luck to the remaining teams
See you back in La Ronge!

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