At 10am Wednesday morning, Feb. 7, 82 brave men and women will begin leaving the starting line on the outskirts of Winnipeg to embark on the 2017 USXC I-500.
It is the most fabled cross-country race in the world; it’s origins going back to 1966 when a few dozen pioneers rumbled out of this very town, on their way to St. Paul, Minn.
There’s some special, something magical about snowmobile racers barreling down a ditchline, chasing the snow dust in front of them while they chase the dream of making to the finish line.
Legends are made in races like the I-500. We revere names like Cormican, Lindblad, Nelson, Wolff, Hibbert, Pake, Struthers, Dyrdahl and Dick because of their having conquered this beast.
But the beauty of this race goes far, far beyond the winners.
It’s greatest beauty, as well as its grace, is that it’s always been a race for the common man and woman; the once-a-year or even once-a-lifetime racer who scrapes together the money and the time away from work and life in order to fulfill a dream.
Within this circus comprised of the racers, crew, spectators and race officials, there will be thrills, breakdowns, controversy, extraordinary talent, frustration, drama, heartbreak, and achievement. And there will be triumph…not just for the victor, but for everyone who puts themselves into the arena.
I wish the very best to the 82 racers whose sleds are staged on the starting line as I write these words, as well as for the 20 or so additional Junior class racers who will run on the final day from Thief River Falls to Bemidji.
To me, you’re all winners.
Thanks for reading.