When I arrived at the finish line 15 minutes before Jason, I was overwhelmed by that small victory on its own. I could scarcely conceptualize the 900 miles that came before. Because a popular musher was coming into town, the finishing ramp was crowded with dozens of spectators, and the barrage of interviews, conversations and questions left me bewildered and no doubt stammering as I wheeled my bike off the ramp and stumbled across Front Street. People asked me where my support team was, what had I arranged, where would I stay?
"I have no idea what comes next."
This photo is the Australian, Troy Szczurkowski, who arrived the following evening. Troy finished with this stoic demeanor and appeared even more discombobulated than I felt the previous day. Martin Buser was there waiting for his puppy team to arrive, and Troy ignored the musher's good-natured ribbing to take off his balaclava so we could see his face. I introduced myself and offered to take Troy's photo, but he didn't really acknowledge me either as he returned to his bike and pulled out a lightweight tripod for his finish-line photo — even as at least a half dozen others offered to take it for him. It was all quite humorous — Troy seemed to completely block out the outside world and became a little huffy when we interjected on that illusion. I could empathize with this. You spend a lot of time alone on the trail.
Another local physician, Nora, invited us both to have dinner with her. Her house was two miles away, and Troy pedaled so fast that I actually bonked badly as I raced him up the roadside trail. I was dizzy, lightheaded, and on the verge of fainting ... after 24 hours, I was well into recovery mode. It's so, so strange how you can simply tell yourself it's over, and everything shuts down. I'd experienced nothing like that in the 17 days prior.