MARQUETTE - This year's Midnight Run dog sled race that began on Valentine's Day might have had no special significance if not for what happened when the musher wearing bib No. 126 came to the starting gate on Washington Street.
"My life is over the top, beautiful," musher Carl Routhier, 30, of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Canada, said over a microphone.
His girlfriend, Elyse Lessard, later said she thought he was referring to the film that was scheduled to be shown earlier that evening at the Ore Dock Brewing Company, "Le Routier" (The Road), which was shot mainly during the 2013 Midnight Run.
Carl Routhier of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec Canada, gets on his knees and proposes to his girlfriend Elyse Lessard before he heads out on the Midnight Run Friday evening in Downtown Marquette. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Elyse Lessard, left, accepts her boyfriend Carl Routhier's proposal with a kiss before he heads out on the Midnight Run trail Friday evening. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
However, Lessard saw Routhier getting emotional and thought, "Uh-oh."
Routhier then pulled out a ring and proposed to Lessard on the spot.
She accepted, and the crowd cheered.
Lessard, 30, also of Rouyn-Noranda, said she was in shock.
"My man is not that romantic," she said.
The couple has two children, Iris, 2, and 2-month-old Wallace. However, marriage didn't seem to be in the cards for the two, who Lessard said have been together five years.
"I'm not the type of girl who needs to be married," she said.
Lessard, though, might have kept that in the back of her mind.
"But we're girls, so we always dream the princess thing," she said.
Lessard said Routhier, who competed in last year's Midnight Run, operates a dog kennel and mushes full time, and she is an X-ray technician at Rouyn-Noranda Hospital. But, the mushing life encompasses them both.
"It's 24/7," Lessard said. "It's my life. We've got 40 dogs at home, we've got a boarding kennel."
So, it's easy to understand why a lot of work is involved.
"We both need to have that passion," Lessard said. "Otherwise, it won't work because it's a lot of time and energy and everything."
However, Lessard said it's fun to live a passion.
"I hope everybody can do that," she said.
And now she can do it with a ring on her finger.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org