Order of the Red Lantern
note: It is a tradition that the last place finisher in any mushing
competition be awarded a red lantern.
My name is Gary
Hughes-Fenchel, and I am proud to be one of the most successful Red
Lantern racers currently racing. For those who have attended the same
races I have, you'll remember me as the man with the sort-of racing
collie and sort-of racing Samoyed.
Many who covet
the Red Lantern look down their noses at those who compete for first
place in races, but I say … let each team have their own personal
goal. I will share my secrets as to how I have successfully trained
my dogs to smell the flowers (and sometimes eat them) even during a
race. These are approaches that have worked for me:
- The Zen
Approach to racing: There is no race. There is no dog. You do not
exist. Therefore, be at one with the still air. As time flows
smoothly and slowly, you and your team must also move smoothly and
slowly. You cannot win, there is no victory. There is only being. And
being last. Strive without striving. By completing you have
successfully completed and therefore are at one with victory.
- The Chicago
Cubs approach to racing: I will win. I will be first. Okay, I'll be
second. Well, maybe third. Okay, I'll be last. But I'm really just
preparing for next season. Next year I'll win.
politician's approach to racing: This is a race. And yes, I'm going
to win it. As a matter of fact, my team is so good, that we have
practically won it already. Yes, I say, we have won it. We have taken
first place by coming in last. Because last is the most recent finish.
Therefore, by finishing last we have finished more recently than
anyone else. Our victory is more current than anyone else's, and
therefore more relevant.
- The engineer's
approach to racing: If 6 dogs can run a 5 mile race in 30 minutes, 5
dogs can run it faster because their mass is less. I will therefore
decrease the mass by 1 dog unit until my dogs are only just barely
able to cross the finish line. This approach is flawless, so
obviously if my dogs come in last that must be the goal. And I will
be successful in my goal.
- The computer
programmer's approach to racing: It's a hardware issue. If I had
better faster hardware I could not help but win, because my code is
- The teenager
slacker's approach to racing: I'm hungry. I'm really hungry. I wonder
what sort of food I can get when I finish. Maybe if I hang out long
enough on this moving rig someone will bring me some food. Because
I'm really hungry. Oh, are those dogs in front of the rig? Why are
they running, what's up with that? Maybe they're hungry. Because I
know I am. They should learn to relax like me, because I'm really
relaxed. And hungry.
- The nutritionist's approach to racing: My dogs
have the best food in the perfect amounts. They are properly hydrated.
Their training is flawless.My dogs are not winning because they smell twinkies on my breath.
by Gary Hughes-Fenchel