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Classic: Worst 30 Minutes of My Entire Life

Classic: Worst 30 Minutes of My Entire Life
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“They shouldn’t,” Kathy said.

“If,” I hissed, with a disquieting sense of rising panic, ”I’ve got to know the ifs.”

“Then you’ve got to plant the snow hook and separate them — but you shouldn’t have that problem. Jo Ann is a pro and so are the others in front. Just talk Sobi on by. You say, ‘Straight ahead’ and you say it rough, like you mean it.”

Ivan yanked us to the starting line. I watched the team before me speed ahead, the snow beginning to blow harder across the lake, and soon her dogs all but dissolved in the mist.

“Kathy,” I blurted, “if they went with you first, wouldn’t they know the trail better?”

She peered into my face, seeing perhaps for the first time its rigid, vacant look, surprised at how quickly it had been drained of confidence.

“You’re not seizing up on us, are you?” Ivan yelled from the point.

“You’ll be all right,” Kathy said. “You can’t let them know you’re nervous.

They can smell it, you know. Just pump hard, like you’re riding a scooter. Just pump hard.”

The dogs strained forward, like arrows drawn taut on a bow, and the starter counted down “four, three, two, one …” and we sprang forward. I was conscious of two shouts before all noise faded before the wind. One was the send-off from the starter, a burly man hooded in his snowmobile suit who yelled, “Don’t let go of the sled!” And the other was Ivan’s hopeful cry to Kathy, “Did you tell Jo Ann to watch out for them?” And his quick burst of distress, “You didn’t? You didn’t?”

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3 Responses to Classic: Worst 30 Minutes of My Entire Life

  1. Needel, Sylvia December 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    Awesome story!

  2. Georgianna Rodman December 30, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    Captivating. Found myself out of breath racing along with Sobi.

  3. Kathy Beliveau April 26, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    Hi Mel,

    One of my children sent this to me, she was the baby you heard crying when you went to bed after the first day of racing! It was wonderful reliving that weekend in Maine. It really was a great story and one I repeat to people who say “Gee, racing must be fun!!!” It was fun, but like you mentioned, it could be 30 minutes of shear terror when things go wrong.

    Always enjoy reading Yankee Magazine! I send it to my far flung family to keep them in touch with how special New England is. Thanks, Kathy

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