Fuego y Agua Events – Hunter Gatherer – Part 1
Many races I attend you fly in, run around and quickly fly out, much of the time spent in hotels, going from meal to meal with sometimes a few fellow racers. The Fuego y Agua events are much different than is typical scenario and have a very tribal feel to them. Once you attend one of these races you are part of the tribe and can’t wait for the next opportunity to run together again. When friend and race director Josue Stephens said he would be having a second Survival Run in Texas, called Hunter Gatherer, I quickly found myself looking up flights, and figuring out how to fit it into the 2013 race schedule. I learned after Nicaragua that going to one of Stephen’s races isn’t much about the race but really turns into an adventure, a gathering of like minded souls experiencing the world through running long distances and tackling brutal obstacles.
It was in the winter I put Hunter Gatherer on my calendar and from the beginning decided to opt out of the Survival Run and instead focus on the 50K Ultra Marathon. I knew at the time my race of the fall/winter would be World’s Toughest Mudder and instead of risking that race my goal would be to use HG as a training race for WTM. This was before my injury in June. After my injury I still had my eye on Hunter Gatherer as one of my must do races of the year. Even as I boarded the plane to Texas on Wednesday I was unsure whether or not I would be toeing the line on Saturday morning, but I knew not going would not be an option. Some race series draw you in and for me Fuego y Agua Events have that allure.
As I landed in Austin on Wednesday afternoon, I first saw Tyler Tomasello, whom I met in Nicaragua and has been on a impressive streak this year running 20 ultra marathons since Nicaragua in February. This time however the tables were turned, he was running the Survival Run and me only the 50K. Next I met the Luna Sandals guys Tom Norwood and Scott Smuin and our initial group was together. We headed to Stephens house and was met by his wife Paula then headed out to a burger place, where I endulged in a Truffle Mac & Cheese Hamburger and truffle flies, after midnight I was regretting this decision. However, the company was great, we spent the evening catching up and swapping stories.
Thursday morning Amanda Esquivel, who works with Stephens on this races, picked us up and we loaded into her Suburban after some breakfast tacos and headed out to Camp Eagle a couple hours outside of Austin. After a exciting ride, which we learned it’s legal to pass on the shoulder in Texas we arrived at the camp, checked into the bunk house and surveyed the surroundings. Camp Eagle is a Christian Camp which hosts groups, retreats and races in the off-season, we arrived to find lots of 6th graders on a school trip. Not being very religious it was strange to see bible versus on the napkin holders and crosses all over the camp, but the people were nice and we were there to run. Respecting the camp, we made plans to host the (now traditional) Beer Mile away from the camp in the afternoon.
Everyone milled around until it was almost 5pm, more racers arrived to Camp Eagle. The race was small but felt like a reunion of sorts, many of the Mas Locos from Copper Canyons had traveled to the race, along with those from Fuego y Agua, and from the OCR circuit. As I was able to finally put real people with their internet selves I had been “friends” with only on Facebook for months. It funny how these particular races make you feel like family more than competitors, and that’s what we love about it. At 5pm we grabbed the beer and headed up to the spot for the beer mile, a rocky rustic road above the camp. Tyler ran out and marked off the 1/8 mile make and came back for the race to start. It was a small race with less than 10 of us, but we carried the tradition.
All I can say about the Beer Mile this time is I made up a new term “furp” (combination fart and burp), I didn’t puke, Maria Walton is the women’s champion, I finished second very far behind her, and I never want to drink Lone Star Beer again! But at least I didn’t puke and didn’t have to run extra laps. Oh and Texas beer is a lot stronger than Utah Beer! The rest of the day was spent catching up with friends and sitting around swapping more stories.
Part 2 tomorrow… Pre-Race Day, Survival Run Packet Pick-up