Day is done
The Quest is over, and I can sleep!
The champ won the final race, 15 minutes ahead of the next guy. I gleefully covered as many finish line arrivals as I could, spending hours reading in my truck, looking up to Shipyard’s Park every now and then for a musher’s silhouette.
The wait was worth it, the sense of accomplishment and relief oozing off of the mushers as they arrived at the final checkpoint, knowing they could sleep in a warm bed, with warm clothing. I asked about the biggest challenges, the greatest memories, and their tired eyes would again light up as they recounted tails that they will surely recount the rest of their lives.
At the Finish Banquet Saturday night, one musher proposed to his girlfriend after accepting his prize, and of course my eyes watered up, blurring my vision through the camera lens as I still tried to capture images for Monday’s deadline. Another musher cried when he won the vet’s choice award for supreme dog care on the trail. Again, those hormones had my eyes all ablaze with moisture.
When I had finished taking notes and snapping shots, it was time to mingle around the tables of mushers, handlers, race staff and volunteers that had patiently answered my questions and let me intrude on their adventures for the last week and a half. It was a little like saying goodbye on the last day of summer sleepaway camp.
Who knows when or if I’d ever see some of the musher’s wives again? Or chat with a four-time champion musher about breakfast preferences? It’s a little bit of a let down after a week of highs, adrenaline, and excitement that swept me up into the Quest hurricane.
At the same time, it’s nice to be able to catch up on work e-mails and stories from my regular municipal beat that have been cast aside. Though at times the Quest was cold toes, smelly hair, nutritional sacrilege and missing the husband, I am already hoping they ask me to cover it again next year.