Fuego y Agua 2013 – Part 3
After my race was over there were still many that had a lot of racing ahead of them. The next bamboo challenge was a climb up a tree to retrieve another wrist band, once retrieving that one they pulled the pole up the tree connected it to another tree, traversed across to get a fifth bracelet, finally climbing back down. The competitors would then climb almost to the top of the volcano only to turn around and head to the bottom. This station would prove to be the 5pm cut-off. The thirteen racers successfully made this time cut-off and would go on to chop down a tree at this challenge, then take off back up the mountain carrying a small bag of coffee. The racers would later find out this is where their third medal was hidden.
The racers were instructed to keep the coffee dry and told to head back up the volcano. As the reached the top of the volcano they would next reach a lake in the middle of the dormant volcano. Where they found the next aid station and next challenge in which they swam to an island grabbing yet another bracelet. Upon returning to the aid station, they showed their wristbands and received an egg. This egg needed to stay attached to their forehead as they trekked along the crater through part of the trail called “jungle gym”. It was a mix of vines and roots along the edge of the crater. The egg was not aloud to leave their forehead nor break along the way. The technical trail weaved its way down the mountain and back onto the road.
As I departed the finish line, I saw local man, Johnson Gudiell Cruz Barrios the eventual winner of the 2013 Survival Run, coming into the area in first place. He was running in followed by an entourage of local Nica’s following him cheering. He would have two more tasks to complete the race, a swim out to Monkey Island (eggs attached), there he would retrieve a large piece of wood, swim back to shore, then ceremoniously throw the wood into the bonfire at the finish, winning the 2013 Survival Run. Not long after he finished would be the only other finisher in the race two time World’s Toughest Mudder winner, Junyong Pak. Morgan McKay, 2012 Death Race finisher would be the next closest to finishing the race, making a wrong turn at the end, which caused her to miss time cut-offs. Out of 36 racers there would be only 2 finishers in the 2013 Survival Run.
Commentary on the Race:
With this race in the books and another DNF to my name, days later I can reflect back on the race and feel good about all I personally accomplished. This was the most challenging race I have faced to date. It is arguably the most challenging extreme/obstacle/challenge based race there is currently. Survival Run not only forces you to race and race fast, but it also tests your physical and mental strengths. It exposes weaknesses, and leaves much of the time little margin of error. That being said it is my favorite race to date, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the race.
The complexity, danger, and extreme element of this race are not one to be taken lightly. I am forever grateful to have been part of this race in its first year. It will never again have the same element of surprise as it had this year. For those who are toying with sending in an application for 2014 in order to finish the Survival Run you must be able to run the distance (75K) but also be able to self sufficient in the woods for long periods of time. You must hold not only physical strength but also the mental strength to push beyond your limits.
Is this race for everyone? No. This race is for a special type of person, and is not for the casual racer. This isn’t like the Ultra Beast and it isn’t like the Death Race, you are truly in the jungle racing, and Survival Run is a perfect name for the race. Athletes trained months for this race, and only two finished. If people asked me what they should be able to do before attempting this race, I would say:
- 1. Have completed an ultra or two. Ultrarunning is much different from obstacle racing, there are many times where you go 6-10 miles or so without an aid station. Learn how to be a self-sufficient racer.
- 2. Be comfortable swimming distances. I would say be able to swim an ironman distance, never in the race did we encounter a swim that long but when fatigue sets in you want to have a very strong swimming sense.
- 3. Get use to being in the woods alone. Many of the racers got caught coming off the volcano on technical trail in the dark. Hiking and running in the dark takes practice.
- 4. Learn how to climb a tree. Trust me you need to know this.
- 5. Finally, be ready to roll when a local has pulled a course marker or other bump in the road happens. This is not your groomed road race or obstacle race where markers are abound. You have to be very vigilant and keep watching for markers. It’s a foreign country they are not use to races all the time. Stuff happens.
Overall, Survival Run in an incredible race for the right type of racer it combines all the best in distance trail running and obstacle racing. Josue Stephens has created his own category in the execution of this race. I look forward to it in 2014 and seeing how the race has evolved.