As I made my way over toward Andy’s place I was noticing how muddy the terrain was beneath the grip of my Inov-8 Roclite 285’s. The path that led to Andy’s was pretty short and simple as we arrived we instantly came to a halt and it was time for a gear check by none other than the children of the race directors. I find it hysterical and humorous that they involve their kids in playing the games with the racers, and they’re pretty damn good at it too. I jumped the line and went off to the side and was accused of trying to “cut” when in actuality my intentions were to open my Gunslinger II and locate my index card of what gear I brought with me and so I could have access to whichever items would be needed. I’m always trying to be a few steps ahead to speed things up when I know what to expect. I quickly showed my three items and zipped my gear back up.
Andy was wandering around the group of people saying hi to all the veterans and greeting many of the new prospects. Most of the group arriving was comprised of veterans since we all waited while a majority of the newcomers started things off early and had already been at Andy’s house breaking up rocks and stones. Many of them were using the butt of their axes, and so once I knew that was what we had to do and Andy confirmed, I went to work but within a brief moment all the veterans were called over to the front lawn of the house. We were directed to do some obnoxious number of burpees, I think it was something like 300. When Todd made his, now expected, late appearance he was directed to do 1000 burpees and the rest of us were to count for him. That lasted a good five to ten minutes before the race directors became bored with the shenanigans of messing with Todd. After that we were further broken up into Veteran Finishers and Veteran Non-Finishers. Those of who had finished – officially and unofficially – were directed to make their way back toward Riverside Farm.
Once we returned to the Riverside Farm area we discovered what we would be doing for the next few hours. As it turned out during some of the camps that Peak Races hosts the race directors already had participants set some rather large stones into the earth, building a staircase up the side of the mountain. Sections of this stone staircase would be used for the weddings that are hosted here, the rest of it would create a new easily navigable trail to the top of the mountain. What better way to improve the scenery than to have a group of Death Racers build a beautiful staircase up the side of Joe’s mountain. These guys are brilliant, you really have to hand it to them. Not only do they get free labor but they actually get us to pay them to bust our asses. It still boggles my mind but being a part of something this historic….you can’t put a price on that. I was ecstatic to be part of this.
This first section was pretty much complete but there were some stones that needed to be replaced, moved, or re-set since the staircase wasn’t up to Joe’s standards. Understandably so. Some of these stones that were already in place moved to much and others just were not large enough to make the pieces of this puzzle fit together. That’s what the task became the more we built. A very heavy puzzle made of a collection of miscellaneous pieces that all somehow would fit together to become a work of art. This staircase would one day become the masterpiece of those who signed up to take on the madness that Joe and Andy subject us to every time we come out to the wonderful foothills of Vermont.
We were provided with very little tools in order to succeed. Like the Egyptians who built the pyramids we had to use primitive tools to get the job done. This was our pyramid. We had a collection of iron poles handed to us and the rest was up to the racers to figure out. Just as we were about to start new directions came and ordered us back to Andy’s. Not even half way there we were turned around again, we quickly made our way through the single track trail that leads straight from Riverside to Andy’s, extremely convenient. Andy and Joe are only going to have that much more time to come up with torturous Death Race task. When we arrived back at the staircase Joe had us sort ourselves into teams of 5, each team had a captain and Olof, the reigning champion of Death Race was made into main leader. Our team was solid we had Amelia, Mark, Bryan, Isaiah and myself with Mark taking the lead as our captain.
We set to work on the staircase immediately. Within minutes you could tell we weren’t exactly sure how to organize and structure our staircase assembly line. Everyone was kind of getting themselves into a little of everything and instead of digging into the earth to make suitable resting spots for each stone step the group was mainly trying to just piece a puzzle together. It didn’t work very well and when Jeff Foster made his way over he was assigned to take over for Olof in commanding the group of previous Death Racers to assemble this stone staircase. Since Jeff does this sort of thing for a living he was able to get our asses in gear and no longer were we just a bunch of Death Racers moving stones through sloppy mud and hacking away at branches, but we were a cohesive unit building a solid stone staircase that would actually be suitable for Joe to take wedding parties on. Together we were making history.
To be continued…