Report - Annie Pazzi



As a supporter I had a ringside seat for this Défi, and I want to congratulate all of the volunteers.

It's Saturday morning and around 9 o'clock I'm supposed to meet the lead pack with food and water at the first checkpoint. I'm nice and warm, sitting in my car talking with a volunteer (whose name unfortunately I don't even know!), who is there to note down the skater's numbers as they pass. Around 9:30 the first skaters arrive, and already their faces speak for themselves. They're wet and they're cold. Some haven't dressed warmly enough... I wish I could help, but how? The volunteer I was talking with before gives me her keys, though we've only known each other for an hour, and tells me to go to her place to get blankets and coats. I'm off like a shot, and bring back everything I find.

Catching up to the lead pack, I follow them for a few minutes in case they need me, but Youri is there. He's looking after them fine. Somebody else might need me, so I head back to that generous volunteer.

I follow the course and encounter other skaters, offering my help and the warmth of my car should they need it. But these skaters are strong! They want to keep going!

Later when I arrive at the Auditorium, only a few skaters have come in. But the state they're in in fills me... with pride! True, they're blue with cold, they're practically convulsed with the shivers and can barely talk, but they made it! The human will is so impressive. Several of us help them take off their skates, undress etc., because their hands are too cold. Rod is there to help the worst cases. Lucky you were there, Rod...

But me as well, I'm tired! Barely slept the night before due to being so nervous (supporters get excited too, you know!), and I've done nearly 170 km going back and forth along the course! I never took time to eat, and now it's 2:30 in the afternoon. Exhausted, my head spinning with images each more dazzling and difficult than the other, I finally go home.

You're right Rod, the victory this day went to the slow ones (without taking anything away from those who came in first). The challenge this year was not to pull off a record time, but simply to finish the Défi! I had my skates with me, and wished I could have skated part of the course with my friends from Roller-Montréal, but honestly, when I saw the state they were in and the weather, I was happy to stay in my car!

Bravo everybody, this Défi will go down in history and will always have a special place in our hearts and in our memories. And even though it's true that what counts most is our personal satisfaction, I really believe this deserved some attention from the media... Until next year!

Annie Pazzi