This was redemption.
I wanted to finish and I knew I’d push to the end, but I didn’t think I actually would.
Yeah, that’s what I was really thinking before it all began. AT WINTERGREEN. In Dallas, I knew I had what it takes to finish. I had been there before. I learned from the previous 12 hour. I was ready. And I FULLY EXPECTED to finish. But in the end, that was what crushed me.
For those of you that don’t know, there’s a required gear list, part of which is a weighted rucksack/backpack that we must carry at all times unless instructed otherwise. My bag weighed about 25 lbs total, which included the 15 lb weight, hydration, food and gear.
7 PM to 7 AM. 13 hours. Here we go. Wait, what? Yeah, that was the night we turned the clocks back.
We began with a nice half mile run. Then a group tire carry from festival area to bucket brigade (1.75 miles). Next was 6 legged uphill bucket lunges. Three people tethered together carrying three buckets of gravel uphill to the end point 100 yards away via lunging. To get them back down, we did conveyor belt lunges: everyone in a single file line doing synchronized stationary lunges. Next up: the Couple’s Therapy Uphill Bear Crawl. In pairs, connected at the wrist and ankle, we did a 150 yard uphill bear crawl carrying a sandbag. To get back down, we crab walked still tied and carrying the sandbag. My partner (5 time Death Racer – 4 time finisher) and I were the first up and down with about a 5 minute lead. After chatting it up with Uncle Death Race himself (Tony) for about 10 minutes (waiting for everyone else to finish), we carried our tire all the way back to where we got it. We then did a 3 team, synchronized “Indian” run a half mile back to basecamp and lastly, we finished off the team portion with 150 burpees – “AS ONE”.
OH YAY. A SCAVENGER HUNT. DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING.
Land navigation was a failure at Wintergreen, so instead of doing that, they took out the land navigation part of it (compass and pace beads) and just had us use our surroundings to locate the spots we needed to go. Brilliant! Eerily similar, we needed 15 points to advance, each object had its own point value and we could only retrieve one object at a time. Maps stay at basecamp. Oh yeah, and the unforgettable, unknown time hack. Ready?
“Shit, I’m doing this solo, aren’t I?”
Okay, run to the one that’s farthest away first. It’s the only one worth 5 points.
“Oh look! They found something RIGHT HERE.”
Grab one; back to basecamp – 2 points; okay, now to the far away one.
“Um, this doesn’t look right… Wait, they look like they know where they’re going.”
Followed them to the buckets. 4 point object – score! Needs to be filled with water (to the brim) so I run to basecamp and try to find water there rather than a half mile away. Done. Back to basecamp.
“That’s not lake water.”
“Does it have to be?”
“Did you say that?”
“Yes, that’s why I said…”
I stopped listening, dumped the bucket out and took off running with it back to the lake a half mile away. Filled it up. Back to basecamp. BRUTAL.
“I’m sorry, it’s not filled enough.”
“Look at what some of your comrades did. Get creative.”
*Leaves bucket. Takes off running back to the lake*
Upon arrival at the lake for the third time, I emptied my dry pack and filled it with water. Sealed it up and ran back to basecamp. I emptied it into the bucket and heard,
“Okay, you got your points.”
I take off running, past the lake, over a flooded bridge and see a participant coming out of the field.
“Are you coming from A?” (The far away 5 point object)
“Is this way quicker?”
“Yeah, the path is an L. You can cut right through here, but there’s a barbed wire fence you have to jump.”
“Thanks.” *Takes off running*
“Climb it like a ladder!”
And so now really risking it all, since I’m off the trail, I’m wondering if this was the way to go. Too late. But over the barbed wire fence and then up over the hill, I saw my destination. I successfully cut out about a half mile. Cadre is waiting at the top of the hill pictured below.
“What do I have to do?”
“You have to bring 100 rocks to the top… in increments of 10. When you get to 50 you can take your ruck off.”
And so I did. Retrieving mostly pebbles, I got to 50 and took my ruck off. On my 6th trip up, Cadre asks,
“Did you take your ruck off at the bottom?”
“Yep. Was I not supposed to?”
“Well, you’re going to need it.”
DO I HAVE A LISTENING PROBLEM HERE? WHAT AM I MISSING? IS SOMEONE TRYING TO SET ME UP TO FAIL? AM I REALLY JUST THAT MUCH OF AN IDIOT?
Go, go, go. You don’t have your ruck on so your flying for now.
7th trip. 8th trip. 9th trip I take the ruck back up and leave it there. 10th trip.
“Okay 5 crucifix pushups and hold at the top on the last one for 10 seconds.”
Upon completion, Cha wrote “TM 22” on my safety vest and told me to show that to Tony. I take off running back to basecamp. AND LET ME JUST ADD, that I know I did that quickly, because I started 2 trips after this one guy and finished before him!
This time, I’m not risking it. I take the path back 2.5 miles. I did A so I have 11 points now. I’m so close. I just need the other 4 point object. The water jugs. Run. Run. Run. Okay, I really need to eat and drink something. Done. Okay, time to run again.
Have you picked up on it yet? I WAS RUNNING THE ENTIRE TIME. With all my gear. Alone. I WAS FINISHING THIS TIME.
Yeah, well I get back to basecamp and Tony logs my points. I set back out en route to the water jugs a half mile away with clear directions from other participants. But on my way there I saw people walking back to basecamp empty handed – they had gotten their 15 points already. There’s no way that much time could be remaining if people had already finished. This event is specifically timed for completion and there really is no room for error. But I went anyway. (I know, shocking…) And when I was almost all the way there, I saw people carrying their water jugs back to where they got them. WTF.
“Why are you bringing them back?”
“It’s 2 points to bring them to basecamp and 2 points to bring them back.”
I go anyway. (Crazy, right?) Grab my jugs (HA) and take 3 steps before I can’t anymore. I use my towel and duct tape to make a sling which soon turns into the means by which I dragged them the rest of the way. And by the time I got to the top of the hill where I could see basecamp, I saw the successful 18 doing PT. I missed the time hack and had been disqualified. I didn’t even get the 2 points (for a total of 13) for getting the jugs to basecamp. I finished with 11.
So I drag my jugs to basecamp anyway (reminds me of a certain cinderblock…), pack up and head out. Oh wait. I didn’t drive. I was dropped off… By people 40 minutes away… And it’s 4 AM. (Yep. 10 hours in. Again.) LUCKILY, a comrade was in the same predicament and she was staying at the same hotel as another comrade who actually drove. AND IT JUST SO HAPPENS, that their hotel was in the same town I was staying in! Glorious. Well, not really. I couldn’t really get pumped about anything at this point. In my delirium, I couldn’t even remember the address, so I ended up hanging out in the lobby of their hotel for 2 hours until the people I was staying with woke up and read my text telling them where I was. They came and got me. No shoes on. Shivering. Tears running down my face. And my pumpkin, bucket and sign were nowhere to be found.
Unfortunately, I let my fire burn out that day. I needed to embrace the situation and I felt I couldn’t. And although I’m still fighting off some of those demons, the fire is back. I’ve been making myself stronger and stronger physically, but I forgot that mental strength is what actually gets you through: being able to listen to your emotions and being able to take the positive from every experience. I am thankful every day to be able to do the crazy events I do and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. I’ll get back out there… eventually.