Happily waiting for us at Death Race HQ was Joe, and a few others. You could see they were surprised with our perseverance. Initially, they didn’t want to give us another task but they gave in soon enough. We just missed participating in the Origami, so next on their list of challenges required us to head over to the nearby barn. There, a half full flatbed trailer of hay bales awaited our bodies. We were allowed to put our packs down for this challenge. Perfect. My shoulder was feeling some crazy fatigue. This reminded me that I was overdue for another dose of pain medicine.
Morgan and I set out immediately to begin slinging our 15 bales of hay, each. We were required to take them from the trailer, however many we could handle at a time, and neatly stack them. Much of the second floor had already been covered floor to ceiling by the other racers who already encountered this obstacle. Starting out I took one bale at a time. After a couple trips, I decided to attempt speeding things up by bringing two bales. It wasn’t difficult weight wise, but I quickly found that taking two at a time meant being more cautious. Too cautious. Once I had those two bales piled on I went back to just carrying one at a time. I didn’t want to deal with the consequence of a bale falling apart.
Shortly after Morgan and I begun bringing our bales of hay into the barn a few more racers arrived and joined us. After their arrival and a few trips to the second floor, I discovered the bales of hay that acted as stairs to the trailer had shifted. I went to step off the trailer; my foot never found the hay staircase. TIMMMMMBER! Luckily, I caught myself with the bale of hay I was holding. I moaned and groaned a bit about how uncool it was that the stairs moved, but it was likely an accident. Definitely not betrayal. Regardless, before heading back up for my next bundle I made sure there was a safer makeshift staircase in place. We continued to bring our bales of hay up one at a time. This was one of the shorter, less demanding tasks thus far at the Death Race. After completing this challenge we gathered our gear and went back for our next task.
Morgan became side tracked and began helping a couple other racers take care of their feet before continuing on. Many racers were suffering from the nastiest cases of wet feet I’ve ever been exposed to. Morgan had a huge heart, and didn’t want to let our fellow racers suffer. I found myself stunned at how much Morgan cared about the other racers. That’s one of the things about the Death Race, though you compete you come together. There is a mutual effort to defeat the race that aims for an 80%, or higher, failure rate. She finished tending a racer’s foot and provided him with some extra Gold Bond foot powder. I encouraged her to speed things up so we could continue on to the next part of the race. Helping other racers was great, but we were many, many hours behind. I feared for falling further and further behind.
The heart that Morgan had for helping others was tremendous. I was proud to be teamed up with such an fantastic woman. We made our short trek from the hay bales back to where HQ was set up. We checked in with our makers. Our next task was supposed to be the carrying of a cement mix bag up to the top of the mountain. Joe explained to us that not only were we disqualified but also we would never finish. If we chose to go on we would be unofficially in the race. We could not be swayed. Our minds had been made up, and as with all the other attempts to get us to quit, we just rushed him to get to the point. All we wanted was for him to move us on to the next obstacle we needed to conquer. Joe didn’t let up though; he kept on about how we could never finish, officially. I refused to believe a word he said.
The back and fourth went on for a short while. We asked him if we could just have our cement bags. Morgan and I wanted to continue on, that’s all we wanted to do, move forward. Surprisingly we were informed there were no cement bags for us and to just move on. I still don’t understand why this happened, and would have loved to take on that challenge. It irks me that we were kind of brushed off from this challenge. My shoulder was dead sure, but the endorphins were firing at full force. I’m certain that determination and persistence alone would have been enough to get us to the top of that mountain with whatever weight they gave us.
Just before leaving I remember seeing Jennifer and crew one last time. I ran the idea of joining us by Jennifer but she had just returned from quite the hike herself and was not ready to back up again. Our timing was nothing but off this entire race. It did not bother me though; fortunately, I had an awesome partner to race with me. I knew it’d be all good moving forward. As we tried to make our way toward the suggested we found ourselves blocked off by one of the animal pens. Instead of taking the street back like we were instructed to we used this opportunity to just go back up the trail we had taken every other time.
This was one of the toughest ascents for us. We were becoming extremely delusional. It felt as though I was rambling nonsense. Even I had a hard time understanding half the words that came out of my mouth. Sleep deprivation was certainly taking its toll on us and the results were hysterical. Moments like these would have been great to have recorded. It became necessary for us to take a break just to close our eyes. Our levels of sleep deprivation were dangerous, especially given the environment. You may be asking how the hell we took a nap out on the mountain in the middle of a trail. Quite simple really, we dropped pack, took out my iPhone, and set the alarm for ten minutes. Voilà! Nap. Time.
The most challenging part of nap-time was the fear of other racers seeing us. After that fear came the fear of some unknown animal for us. The same issues we faced before, but for some reason our senses were heightened. The wind blowing would freak me out and wake me up within two minutes of closing my eyes. We clearly never actually slept, but just closing our eyes for those few minutes was what we needed to continue on.
During our trek through the mountain passes we saw a lot printouts of the same images from the hints we saw prior to race start. At first I didn’t think much of it, but as we kept seeing more I started to wonder if this was the last obstacle coming up. We came to a clearing and out of nowhere came Morgan’s mother and father running to us from where the next challenge took place. Beyond seeing their daughter again, there was purpose to them coming toward us with such haste. It turned out they had done some recon work and had some intel for us. Sweeeet. They shared with us two of the questions and answers being asked as part of the next challenge.
Q. What sense is most connected to memory? A. Smell
Q. Which athlete does the most squats during their sport? A. Catcher
Very odd questions I thought to myself. Morgan’s parents gave us a run down of the upcoming challenge and explained to us that they were not allowed to help Morgan but they could help me. I didn’t understand why but this is the Death Race, sometimes you just gotta go with it. Morgan and I made our way over to the challenge and Jack began to explain to us the most intense obstacle we would face yet. Mark was there also, it was good to see him smiling. When the task was first presented to us I underestimated how difficult the challenge would be. To finish this obstacle we were to perform a log roll, lying on your side and rolling your body…like a log, through a quarter mile loop. At the halfway point they had strategically placed a bucket. Inside the bucket? Rotting intestines, and other internal organs from a bull. That had been out in the hot sun rotting for the past two months. We were to stir the contents of said bucket ten times during each lap of the course using a stick they left in the bucket.
We were to do this for a total of six laps.
To be concluded…