Saturday, June 22, 2013 1130 hours, 21 hours into the race
After the verdict has been presented, and a brain clearing conversation with Joshua has taken place, I wipe any traces of bacon off my face and put on my backpack. I “accidentally” forget the rock, but Chris Davis kindly reminds me that I am, indeed, missing a certain piece of solid mineral material.
Thankfully, I gain a partner in crime – Matthew the UltraBeast. Yes, I guess if you are going to affiliate with anyone at an event called the Death Race, you better find someone with a fitting name. If I was stuck with someone named Daisy Duke, I may not have lasted as long as I have (no offense to any tough ladies and gents out there named Daisy Duke).
Matthew earns a spot in the Purgatory by resting a 30-pound pipe he was carrying instead of a rock, on the ground. [Yeah, I don’t get it either – he brought the god damn pipe to the god damn farm, didn’t he?]
Having survived the Inferno, the UltraBeast and I are off to Roger’s farm, aka the Purgatory. A rock and a pipe keep us company.
Italian looks just a tiny bit disappointed to see me disappear yet again, but not at all surprised.
The climb up the Mount of Hell on the way to the Purgatory is a walk in the park. Not. It’s a winding road, straight up hill, which keeps folding onto itself. We are looking for the specific address. The house number we were given is nowhere in sight.
The UltraBeast is exhausted – that pipe is brutal to carry, and he’s had it for hours. I give him a break by resting the pipe across my backpack, while continuing to slowly walk up the hill. It’s not long before I have to give it back – the double-load is not easy, but he gets an opportunity to stretch his shoulders.
Despite the long (largely vertical) walk, I am enjoying the company.
UltraBeast’s sister drives past us, smiling and waving. Ten minutes later, she is driving back, no longer smiling. “It’s quite a walk still”, she frowns. “But you guys will be fine. Just keep walking”.
We finally arrive at Roger’s farm. I expect to find rows of Death Racers holding a three hour plank, but instead I witness fifteen Death racers busily engaged in… yardwork. This is a special level of hell, indeed.
Matt greets us. Our guardian angel. Our Cerberus.
Only with one head and charming smile. All while dishing out punishment. Woof.
We are put to work immediately.
In this case, work means cutting grass, weeding flower beds and cutting down some smallish trees. Someone else is replanting flowers, chopping wood, and stacking in in the shed. The sun is beating down. The chores keep coming our way. As the woman living on the property mentions something about the roof, I break out into hysterical laughter. There are few things I know for sure: 1) this ain’t no obstacle race, 2) people are usually paid for planting and weeding other people’s gardens, and 3) I suck at landscaping.
What I do not yet know is that we will be here for over 20 hours, and this little detour will ultimately cost us the finisher’s skulls.
As I talk to Todd Sedlak, I get a glimpse into his way of seeing this event. “Joe really wants me to quit”, he says. “And he would do anything to facilitate this. He knows why I do these events. I can handle the physical challenges without any problems. I do these events because I like to be with my friends. And here I am. Separated from all of my friends, stuck on a farm with a bunch of strangers, doing someone else’s chores. I have chores of my own in a yard of my own forty minutes away. I might as well be doing that. I just want to make sure that I quit in good spirits. I want to get back, and then quit.”
Those in Purgatory will only leave when they have corrected the flaw within themselves that brought them here. Todd is allowed to join the rest of the racers few hours later. Then we find out that he did, indeed, quit.
Meanwhile, we earn the name Roger’s Landscapers.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
After spending most of the previous day and all night at Roger’s place, doing various yard tasks, we finally head to the farm. The long walk depicts some sort of death march, as we are all sleep deprived. Many are hallucinating.
In fact, at some point, I am confident that I see Italian in the crowd, and I start screaming his name. Ahhh… sleep dep – the cheapest hallucinogen you can get.
It must be 2am. 3am? It’s pitch black.
Somewhere out there, the other racers are heading out to the Bloodroot hike, and the swim at the frigid lake.
We form two lines, facing each other. Burpees. Hundreds of them. We count together. Loudly.
We are faced with mountains of wood – to be carried up the hill and stocked neatly for the winter. More chores.
We form a line, and start tossing the logs to each other. This is actually kind of fun for a bit. I am forced to concentrate to avoid being hit in the face with a log – hence, it is harder to be bored. The excitement does not last long, and soon, I can barely keep my eyes open.
A kind spectating soul asks if I need anything. Angela Emily had to drop during the first night after badly hurting her shoulder, and is now fulfilling the role of a guardian angel. I beg for coffee. The cup that I hold in my hands twenty minutes later is the best thing that happened to me in this race. Liquid orgasm.
Stacking wood takes up most of the morning, after which we are finally allowed join the others. The next challenge – long barbed wire crawl through the creek – once with your pack, and once without. This is probably my favourite twenty minutes of the entire event. This is an actual obstacle. This is the shit I am good at.
The rest of Sunday is a blur.
I chopped wood again.
The task – pick a hunk of wood. Chop into serviceable pieces. Present to judge. Go under the wall in a mud puddle – there and back. Repeat. Eight times. Once again, for a precious brief period of time, I feel like I am in a race. Specific task. For time. Go.
After the wood chopping, I took about ten minutes to devour an amazing salad (ahhh, vegetables never tasted so good!) prepared by Italian, and take a nap.
I hopped along a trail with both feet tied together for what seemed like miles.
Next challenge is being explained – both feet are tied with a plastic zip tie, and off you go hopping along the trail towards the memorization task, and then back to answer the questions based on the task. If the tie rips (oh, so easy to do!), you start over. This was the point at which it also started to rain. I was cold and wet. The flask of brandy came in handy, and made me lots of friends. The latter was crucial – one of the new friends (hi, Patrick Mies II) shared a brilliant tip for the task – duct tape my feet together just a bit tighter than the tie itself, therefore, protecting the tie from sudden movement and falls, which were bound to happen.
I headed out on a long (and fruitless) hike in the middle of the night towards the Iron Mine.
I make a mistake of wearing a pair of shoes with aggressive tread, and pavement destroys my feet. They feel like hamburger meat, and every step hurts.
I hiked up Joe’s mountain and back down in pitch darkness.
By myself. Oh, did I mention I am terrified of the dark?
I’ve lost interest in the event hours ago, and was moving on hate alone. I wanted to be able to speak about this event, and speak about it freely. Quitting would forever tarnish any commentary. Nobody listens to Ms. Sour Grapes.