Death Race 2012 – The Race – Part 1
Andy and Joe promised me I would learn something about myself in the months leading up to the race. Multiple times over the past couple of months I had been told I should either quit or that I would do really well. On Friday it was time to put this to the test. My race as a competitor would last for around 24 hours and some raced for nearly 68 hours. Going into the race I had been struggling to get motivated but race day came, I had the gear and had signed up for the race a year ago so it was time to go.
Thursday night the second annual pasta party began and several familiar faces as well as new faces showed up to my house where the pasta party was being held upstairs by my friends renting the upstairs for the weekend. It was a great chance to catch up and meet new friends. Several times throughout the night I heard from friends they had put odds on my taking it home. It seemed everyone was focused on what I had to offer this race.
Friday morning I tried to stay as calm as possible. I skipped the 10:00am hints meeting. Enough people were racing that I would hear the highlights throughout the day. Instead had a large breakfast of pancakes, bacon and sausage, if this was going to be my last meal it was going to be yummy damn it. So I did my final packing checks and donned my race outfit it was time to head to Pittsfield. We unloaded the car and headed up to the top of Tweed River to then hike up to the pre-race weigh-in. Of course weigh-in was at the top of the mountain. Luckily, I have been on the mountain enough times to know a couple easier ways up. I lead a group of people and we headed up. Along the way a female tapped me and said go to the female line and you won’t have to wait. I thought female line that’s weird but sure enough walked up to the front and side I am in the female line and was whisked into the weigh-in.
As I entered the cabin at the top of the mountain I saw one of my favorite kids, Andy’s daughter Jade. Fully packed out I jumped in the cabin and pulled her into a huge hug (she was suppose to be being a hardass). My normal weight is around 135, I stepped on the scale at 175.5 pounds. That breakfast really added some weight! Then we headed back off the trails and to the official registration.
I was one of the first to registration and started it then told I had to wait until 2:00pm so I found a shady spot outside of the pool house at Riverside Farm and waited. Sipped Gatorade and water, two things which would greatly help me later! As I handed in my card of required gear and received my race number directly afterwards I was given my first task, sew on my number (618) to my black compression shirt (required gear). I walked back to the farm along the river and made my way into the tent and started sewing. There I ate some food and then heard the race was actually starting (we were told we were free until 6:00pm) so around 3:30ish I found myself loading up and getting ready for an adventure.
Once I headed away from our tent in a quiet pasture and into the madness it was definitely time for the race to begin. Our first challenge was to crawl through the culvert under Route 100 then take the swim test. The swim test consisted of putting on my life jacket (required gear) and swimming in the smelly duck pond at Amee Farm. Luckily, it was a nice and warm day so donned in all CW-X and Ibex I wasn’t wet for very long. After passing the swim test we headed back across the street to the barn.
This part of the day I like to think of as community service for my CSA at Amee Farm. I found myself chopping and stacking wood, pulling weeds, and other small tasks around the farm. While weeding I looked over and saw people hold three person kayaks above their heads, I have never been so happy to weed in my life. When our weeding task was over I found myself holding up a kayak as well. This is when Mr. Bullhorn (as I will refer to him) came into the picture. Armed with a bullhorn and a raspy voice he yelled and yelled at us. We all were holding something behind the barn when he told us to grab our packs and we were headed across the street back towards the duck pond.
Once at the duck pond we were all treading water (life vests on) this is when Joe and Andy welcomed us to the race (funny it seemed we had already began) and gave us a speech about many things. During the speech we were informed we would be working in teams the first night. Then Andy throw a box of ping pong balls into the water and we all swam our asses off to get a ball. Some had numbers others merely said something like “you lose”. My ping pong ball read “5” I started yelling out the number five and it was like a game of maddening Marco Polo in the pond as teams started to join together. Once our team was assembled we were instructed to grab two giant slosh pipes. As soon as we had them in hand we followed Joe into the woods. Prior to the race Andy had said at the Peaks Ultra it would be helpful for the Death Race and was he right! As we left the farm we headed on the same trails I had raced on a few weeks ago. This led my group to thinking I was one of the betrayers in the race. (Joe and Andy had said at the tips meeting 18 people racing were betrayers and secretly on their side) For the record I was never on their side until after I quit. I popped on my GPS unit somewhere along the trail and decided to track where we were going.
As we made a big loop then headed over to Upper Michigan Road to the top where the ABBA station had been for the Ultra this time I just found 500 burpees awaiting me. We had to work as a team and each complete 500 burpees. Then it was time to start to hit Bloodroot. This is known in this area as a particularly challenging piece of trail and we were about to tackle it in the evening with a three-person sit on top kayak in hand.
As we trudged along a few times we were stopped pulled together and did more burpees. I think at the end of the day we did something about 800 burpees during the hike. The hike was relentless and rest was non-existent. As we trudged on further into the night and into the woods our team started to come together. From bloodroot we turned onto the Long Trail. It happened to be the exact same trail that I did the night hike on during the fall. It was comforting between the GPS and the trail markers to know where we were the whole time. We weren’t told were we were going but it was pretty evident we were headed to Chittenden early on.
Most people expected as past races had been that we would be returning to water and food fairly quickly and packed for weight instead of nutrition. I had a hunch that this year the miles would be high and packed over three liters of water as well as much food to get me through the night. As soon as I realized where we were going I started to ration. I joked around once that you need to eat all you can when food is in front of you as you have no idea when your next meal will be and this was 100% true!
While on the long trail we navigated through narrow trail where the kayak was twice as wide we pulled and pushed the kayak all night taking turns. Looking back it wasn’t that bad but to the onlooker it was misery. The sun started to peak it’s way out of the darkness just as we were exiting the Long Trail and headed onto some VAST (snowmobile) trails then onto a work road just before arriving at Chittenden Reservoir.
Once we arrived we dropped the kayak and were instructed to put on our life vests (I had never taken mine off) and head for a swim around some markers in the lake. Morning swims in Vermont are the best so I headed off for a swim. Then over to the fire to look at the state of my feet. As I was getting dressed I had my first look at my feet and saw how macerated they had become. I put on new socks for the first time in almost a day and proceeded to carrying around some gravel. It was shortly after this I decided to quit the race… but it wasn’t over.