Now that we had our fancy bibs, I’m not going to lie I’m still a bit pissed that we did not get the awesome bibs that the racers had at the 2011 Death Race. When we made it back to the farm our first task was to report to Sergeant Screamer, as most of us have dubbed him, show him our bib and he would check off our name on a list confirming our completion of the bib sewing task.
When Mark, Eric and I got to him we were each told that our bib numbers were not the required 4 inches in height and that we’d receive a penalty at a later time. This is where the betrayal seemed to have already begun because not one of us recall being told that there was a minimum height for the bib numbers. We accepted it however and began our crawl through the culvert that went under Route 100, which is basically the main road in the small town of Pittsfield. The tunnel was small, long, and absolutely pitch black. I’ve never been one to get claustrophobic but a little over halfway through that changed. As I followed behind Mark, occasionally having to stop because my hand would feel his shoe as opposed to the metal pipe, my heart started to race. I felt the anxiety starting to brew within, so I closed my eyes for a split second…took a deep breath, calmed my mind and exhaled slowly. I remember thinking at this moment, you are going to be fine, just a little further and you’ll see light and soon after you’ll be back outside. After that moment I heard someone ahead of both Mark and I yell back that they were starting to see the light. Hallelujah! I knew it couldn’t have been that much further. As we got towards the end I could see that Mark was up on his toes and hands but the rest of his body was off the ground. There were some slightly more jagged parts coming up ahead, so it made sense why he wasn’t just crawling. I followed suit.
We ran back across the street and were told it was time to grab those pink swim caps that were part of our mandatory gear list and to suit up in our lifejackets. I strapped into the slightly large lifejacket that I was thankfully able to borrow from one of my neighbors, thank you again, and opened the packaging to the sexy pink swim cap that we were all required to wear for this quick little swim. Once ready we made our way back across the street basically right where we came out of the culvert and were told we had to swim out to the yellow buoy go around and swim back. Simple enough. The fun part about this is the race staff and volunteers were instructed to tell us that the pond was filled with diseases and such, including E.coli. Yay!!! To this day I really don’t know whether or not that was just a scare tactic or truth. That water was pretty disgusting. After the swim we had to head back again to find out our next tasks. For many it was time to chop wood, for me I got to go back across the street, again, to re-stack some of the wood stockpile they had which was tricky because of a well placed SUV parked right in front of the wood pile. Just before I ran over though I had finally seen Todd, this is where I gave him his hair baggy I talked about previously.
As for the wood stacking, at first it was just a bunch of us racers grabbing wood, running around the car laying it down and then running back. Once enough of us were over there though we quickly switched tactics and formed an assembly line. I was a the front of the stockpile therefore I was in charge of, along with a couple others, grabbing the good pieces and handing them off while tossing the fire pit wood off to the side. We had to remove almost three stacks deep which were each a little over six feet high. We simply passed back and then once we removed enough to fix the trouble areas we started going in reverse and began to restock and align everything, all nice and purrrrty like. Towards the end we were “running out of time” according to Connor who was monitoring our progress and making suggestions as to what was acceptable stacking. A bunch of racers were selected to head back and a few of us left behind to finish. It seems being at the front or back of anything in the DR is bad news, your best best is to be somewhere in the middle of the pack. I was stuck still stacking with the few guys that were left. We quickly finished everything off and I went and grabbed my pack from behind the small shed that I hid it behind. Being the year of betrayal I was constantly thinking ahead as to how I could be betrayed and having my pack stolen seemed like one of the most risky betrayals that may be possible.
I ran back to Amee Farm to find out it was now time to turn in our IDs, car keys, or something that we would have to pick up before leaving the Death Race. This was a safety measure to make sure no one got lost during the next few days. I made the mistake of leaving my wallet in my normal everyday back pack in Mark’s vehicle, which is also where my extra pain medicine was also stored. That medicine stayed there since I thought I had what I would need in a ziploc baggy in my survival kit that I was carrying in my ruck. More about that later. For a few minutes while everyone else was already checked in and tasked with holding various objects about their heads including, kayaks, slosh pipes, and the now infamous monster of a tire, I was scrambling around searching for Adam who had Mark’s keys. Just before panic found its way into my head I was able to spot him. We rushed over to Mark’s car I grabbed my ID from my wallet and sprinted back to the check in table. I exclaimed my bib number to the volunteers and dropped my ID on the table at top speed.
After that debacle concluded, I hastily found my spot next to Mark underneath one of the slosh pipes with barely a full hand on it. For those that don’t know a slosh pipe is simply a PVC pipe, filled with water and capped off. It makes for a fun balancing act, even more so with how varied everyones heights were. No one had their rucks on while holding these objects above their heads at this point and we were all instructed to head across the street. In my mind I was uncertain about leaving my pack behind but I of course hid it by my other gear in the racers tent for safety. Once we had crossed Route 100 and put down the objects near the disease ridden pond. Of course now we were reprimanded for not having our packs with us at all time, which is what I had somewhat expected the moment I put my pack down in that racers tent. A mad scramble of racers began as we all ran back to the farm to find our packs and make our way back to the pond.
Upon our return we were told it was time to get our lifejackets on once again…splish splash we were all takin’ a bath…except it was a Friday night. Into the “E.coli” infested pond we all went. Though I wasn’t believing them fully about how bad the water was, I still was extremely cautious and squeezed my lips together almost the entire time, only opening my mouth to speak when necessary. As we bobbed around our fantastic masterminds of the race, Joe and Andy, began giving us instruction about the race going forward. We would begin the race as teams and would be heading out on what would be one of the most epic hikes in the history of Death Race hikes. Shortly after this briefing a large box of ping pong balls were flung into the water and we were all to grab one which would determine our team number. There were 10 teams, so the ping pong balls had sharpie scribbled numbers from 1 to 10 obviously. Some however, had various messages such as “you will fail” or “give up now” or even “disqualified” written on them. I of course picked one of the “give up now” balls first, the white was all I could see when I grabbed for it. I quickly tossed it away and looked for another. I found number ten and then along with the other racers began to gather along the edges of the pond. The edge is where you could actually stand and we positioned ourselves with our fellow teammates. I was actually surprised at how quick we were able to get organized. Usually these things don’t go so smoothly.
After everyone found their teammates we made our way out of the pond one team at a time. We were to find our packs, gather our team, and grab an object. It was finally time to go on our hike. I think at this point they made a jab at us saying we hope you brought enough food and water because we’d be gone most of the night. Betrayal this was not, they were actually serious, most of us didn’t believe them and it made for a lot of food and water sharing later on. Myself and the rest of team ten, I will love every single one of you forever by the way, grabbed our slosh pipe and filtered in with the rest of the teams as we made our ascent. The hike that would eventually lead to Bloodroot pass began as the sun was slowly hiding itself behind the mountains.
To be continued...