I mushed my first dog-sledding race and scored a third place ribbon.
For the longest time, it looked like I had locked in the second place. But as we got closer to the finish line, I could hear the "pull, pull" from the musher behind me. And then, looking to my left, I could see her lead dog siding up beside my dogs. I kicked the snow beneath the moving sled. I shouted out "good dogs, good dogs" and "pull, pull." And we pulled ahead. Oh, I don't think I'll ever forget the excitement of the dogs. How they were loving this open, exciting sprint.
But then, suddenly, my dogs veered off to the right, towards a ridge of reeds poking out from the sides of the frozen river.
I forgot whether it was "gee" or "haw" that meant "left." So I shouted out both, trying to direct the dogs back to the finish line trail. Unconsciously, I started pointing to the left, as if I could communicate by sign language.
But there was no deterrence.
So I resolved to trust the dogs and, more importantly, enjoy the last few seconds of a race that is undoubtedly one of the top ten highlights of my life so far.
So I finished third and off-the-path. I like this a lot, especially the off-the-path part. I like that I finished on a trail that I followed blind. I guess, all in all, I consider it to be a far more appropriate seat for me to be finishing third and off-the-path than second and on-the-path.
Many thanks to the friends who provided me with pictures of the day!