The idea seemed farfetched, impossibly ambitious. Several months ago, when Embrun's Francois Latour began talking up the notion of challenging the world threshing record, there were those who felt it couldn't be done.
After all, it would take more than 41 ancient threshers operating simultaneously in one place for more than 15 minutes to top what was accomplished in Saskatchewan in 2013, earning the Old Tyme Harvest and Hunger Festival a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
But Francois was convinced it could be pulled together. After all, he owned eight working threshing mills himself and he knew other guys... and those guys knew guys who had mills that might be up to the challenge, both man and machine.
Latour is the bulldog type. He puts his head down and plows ahead. He doesn't readily take no for an answer and believes anything is possible.
When the dust had settled Aug. 15 at the St. Albert Curd Festival, a new Guinness Book record was in place. Latour had mustered, not 42 machines to topple the former champions, but 115 battered board and beam threshers, 111 of which remained in the race to the end.
At the podium that day, basking in the glory of a world win, Latour was elated for sure... but his happiness was tempered by what was going on in his personal life.
During all those months he was soldiering on, rallying the troops to run for the record, his wife Suzanne was battling advanced breast cancer, a valiant battle she finally lost Aug. 16, one day after the threshing mill showdown.
Latour rarely spoke of his personal trials. When someone raised the issue as in, "How's your wife doing?," something people routinely do, he'd turn away, his eyes welling with tears.
After all, Suzanne had been there all along and helped fan his desire to attempt a feat that would be Guinness-worthy. He was fascinated by the publication and Suzanne bought him the latest edition every Christmas, the "only book I ever read cover-to-cover."
For Suzanne not to be there by his side was devastating. Although she was in a coma at the end, Latour consoles himself with the belief his dear wife held on long enough for him to see his quest through.
Yes, this is a story about a world record attempt carefully planned and impressively fulfilled.
But it's also a love story.