Setting out for that second lap was extremely difficult. Within minutes I found myself alone, which generally I am quite used to. During this long of a race, being alone can turn into the beginning of the end. As I ascended that mountainside once again I could just barely hear the sound of voices not too far ahead. What ever happened to Matt B. Davis, I wondered? I pushed to catch up. I caught up to the two voices I heard. I am unable to tell you the names of the man and woman I met, they were also on their second lap, what I can tell you is they were very kind and made great company. We hung out for a while, shared stories about our lives, what we did outside of this insanity, and discussed how challenging ourselves to go above and beyond enthralled us. Somewhere out there exists a picture of the three of us near the top of the first climb.
We continued the race together finding out more about each other while we worked our way through the course. Much of the second lap has completely escaped me. I broke off from them when I met up with my friends from the Corn Fed Spartans: Jon, Chad, and Jason. I ran with them for a little while, climbed some, crawled under a barbwire section, and crossed the monkey bars. As we began to descend toward the festival area I said farewell and took off like I always do on the downhill.
When I arrived at the festival area I breezed through all the obstacles with ease. At the rope climb I even got a little cocky and climbed without my feet. Then I took a tip I had received from Andi Hardy, and I attempted the bell kick as I approached the top. Normally I wouldn’t try something new like that at a race, but sometimes when you feel it you just have to go with it. Thankfully I succeeded, no burpees, my only burpees so far resulted from that blasted spear throw. To my surprise, the next obstacle was shut down, no Tarzan swinging or freezing water this lap. Apparently there was a wedding and that section of course had to be closed off. Part of me was delighted, no more swimming in cold water, and the other saddened, the best obstacle couldn’t be attempted again. Instead we were directed to do 30 burpees and carry on. When I finished the burpees, I met Melissa and Colleen and to my extreme surprise this was their first Spartan Race! How about that for an epic way to start out in the Spartan Race series…participating in the first ever marathon distance obstacle course. The Ultra Beast as your first Spartan, now that’s something! We ran together for a bit and shared some stories about racing and such. I caught up and lost them every now and then I was having difficulty keeping my nourishment under control.
At the time I was feeling a bit nauseous, I grabbed a Cliff bar and tried to take it down. The mint chocolate chip flavor was not doing it for me. After finishing half of it, I spit some out I gave in and tossed the other half. I was not feeling it. Though the ladies and I had separated, soon enough I ran into fellow Death Racer, Pete Coleman. To my surprise he was sporting a GoRuck pack. Initially, I was concerned he’d gone insane and decided to carry bricks for the Ultra, but it was one of the smaller rucks and he only had his gear. “No bricks this time,” he told me.
When we made it to the concrete lift challenge, followed by the uphill barbwire crawl we reconnected with Melissa and Colleen. I took a very short stop at the water station and set off. When I finished the crawl I met two other Death Racers, of course their names escape me now. As Pete caught up we all began reminiscing. The group of us stuck together for a bit but as always we eventually dispersed. I remember lying down for a short while and just looking up at the sky. I closed my eyes for a short two minutes and immediately snapped back to my feet. Time to finish this race already, I remember saying. When the rain finally came, I finally got back to running, you know opposed to the fast walking I had been doing up all the hills. The rain, as unwelcome as it was, it was exactly what I needed to get me moving.
My dreams of finishing were nearly shattered with less than 4 miles to go, and already having completed more than the full distance I was not ready to let that happen. Honestly, I never expected to be pulled from the course, there was just no way I’d get pulled. When I spoke to Joe earlier on the course he assured me I could continue on regardless of how long these extra miles would take to finish. Approaching Norm’s Spartan Race truck I knew this couldn’t be good news. He wouldn’t let me continue, not on this part of the trail, based on what he told me this part of the course had to be shut down. It was too dangerous with the rain to let racers continue from this point.
My heart sank. I came this far. I ran more than was expected of me. How could I go home without finishing a race I ran extra miles in? Could this really be happening? My head hung low as I approached the yellow school bus. I remember hearing the sound of the wipers as I boarded the bus, feeling absolutely defeated. When I looked up fellow Team SISU mates, Daren de Heras and Matt Trinca, welcomed me, I can’t tell you how happy I was to see them. We were all a little bitter about being pulled from the course. Shortly after, fellow Death Racer, Pete, boarded the bus and it was a mini reunion. When no one else showed for a few minutes the bus closed its doors and drove through the pouring rain back to the lodge entrance.
During the ride I told my friends I couldn’t be done, this was not over with. I had a plan. Upon our return I would run a mile or two back to where the Hobie Hop was, then I’d turn around and run back on the course. I’m not sure they believed I would go to that extent to get my finish, but in my eyes I’d already gone above and beyond the expectation. When we got back to the lodge, I jumped off the bus and instantly it hit me, the last salt pill. It was tearing my stomach apart. Blarrrghhh. Yup, that’s right. A bunch of water came up, nothing else. I took my sleeve, wiped my mouth and took off up the road.
After about a mile of running, I found my way back onto the course. I turned around. The rain was still coming down, slowing to more of a drizzle. Swiftly dipping, ducking and dodging through the dark trails all I could think to myself was how mad I was that it had to come to this, just to finish. I had ran more miles, was pulled from the course with just a short distance to go, and now I’m running back to earn my finish. Not exactly how I envisioned this race ending. Again, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches, and a modified finish is where that got me.
As I came into the spear throwing pit I could hear my papa shouting out, “is that my Spartan?!” He was so ecstatic to see me and cheered me on. I missed my throw, again. I knocked out some pitiful looking burpees, rolled under the barbed wire, climbed the slippery wall, and blew through the Gladiators. They were clearly becoming too tired to do battle. A quick jump over the fire, and yes I totally contemplated the possibility of doing a front flip over it, I decided against it. As I made my way to the shirt and medal area I saw Pat trying to get my attention. My heart stopped beating. Pat exclaimed that they were about to bring Morgan to an ambulance. Barely finished with the race I took off toward the lodge. Unaware of what the situation was, I was terrified. The thought of anything bad happening to Morgan…I didn’t want to even think about it. She’s too strong, too powerful, and too awesome, for anything to happen. This is the same Morgan who saved me at the Death Race, the woman who helped me to finish. She had to be okay. She just had to be.
Morgan was sitting there shivering and shaking on the bottom stair as I entered. I wrapped my body around her immediately and within a few minutes the EMT’s came in with the stretcher. As I helped Morgan to her feet she came to and that’s when she realized I was there. “Tony?! You’re here,” she said hugging me. I told her I had been there for a few minutes and I wasn’t going anywhere. I helped them to lay her down. I followed the EMT’s into the ambulance. We went straight to work getting Morgan out of the wet clothes; they covered her in a blanket and we helped her to change into something warm. They allowed me to stay with her until she got warm. I was very thankful for that. Morgan wasn’t the first person to go through this; the last woman they had to warm took around 45 minutes to get her body temperature up. The entire time we were in there, Morgan remained full of smiles. Nothing seems to faze her.
It didn’t take too long to get her back to normal; her temp dropped to about 95 degrees, so nothing horrible to recover from. Pat and my dad kept coming by the side door to check on how things were coming. I assured them everything was okay and soon enough we were able to leave. Morgan no longer had any shoes to wear and there was no way I was letting her walk to the car getting her feet cold and wet again. I had Pat and my Dad take our storage bin and everything else back to the car while I grabbed Morgan and carried her out of the ambulance. When we made it back to the car I set her down and made sure she was doing all right.
Once I knew they were all set I ran back into the lodge to change out of my clothes. When we got back to the house Morgan went straight to sleep, I was really concerned that she needed to get food in her and told her she could rest for now but once we got back I insisted that I would force her to eat if I had to. Pat, my dad, and I went over to this pizza place, the wait for a pizza was over an hour and a half so we opted to order every appetizer on the menu instead. My old man and I shared a nice dark local stout and finally it felt like I had finished the race. Sometimes there are more important things than finishing, I was still concerned about Morgan but as soon as we got back, she was already showered and ready to chow. What a relief. I felt a lot less stressed once we sat down and started munching out.
The weekend of the Ultra Beast was above and beyond my expectations. With the exception of going off course and feeling more scared than I ever have when Pat told me Morgan was being taken to an ambulance, I’d say this historic event was just that. Historic. This race will forever go down in history as the first ever Marathon Obstacle Race and we were all blessed with the opportunity to be part of it. I didn’t want to see all my friends go come Sunday morning. A weekend that felt like it lasted forever also felt like it ended far too quickly.
The End… Until Next Year’s Ultra Beast.
Photo Credit: Nuvision Action Image