Dirt in your skirt blog

Fuego Y Agua Race Updates

Posted on February 4, 2014 by Margaret Schlachter

3:30pm – Fuego y Agua began with a gear check and registration. All the required gear was checked for each racer and racers were handed an egg.


3:50pm – Racers were instructed to run about 3K down the beach and shoreline with the egg either around their wrist or on their forehead. Once they reached the volunteer along the beach they were instructed to swim out to an island (about a 1/4 mile swim). They swapped their unbroken egg for a race bib. The racers officially are in the race once they get their bib.


4:20pm – First racer out of the water (Nick Hollon). Racers were then instructed to run back to the start. They thought packet pickup was over.


4:45pm – Nick Hollon reaches the starting line with local Ben Slow followed by last years winner Johnson Cruz. The rest of the racers behind them. All racers once they returned to the starting line were told their race just started. Racers proceed down the shoreline for a rocky and hard traverse for about 2.6 miles.


5:30pm – Racers begin to show up along the end of the coast traverse. They climb up a series of rock stairs and reach a stone water tank. Racers then jump into water tank to retrieve a painted rock. Then are instructed to head up the hill to construct rock cairns.


6:00ish – Shane McKay informs race officials Bev Watson has been bitten by and animal and advises medical to take a look at her when she arrives. Upon her arrival it was a stray dog that followed her and nipped her. The medics reviewed the wound and deemed it superficial. She continued on as nothing happened. She told us she beat the dog off, she is a trooper and currently second female. Camille Adams is leading the women’s race


7:30pm – Racers continue to work on cairns. Leaders are long gone and over half the field has completed the task with the rocks. They are instructed to then run down the road and stop if they want at a shop for food. Leaders are already onto their last task of the night, hike to the top of Maderas Volcano carrying 5 one gallon jugs of water (3 for women). Time cutoff at the top of the volcano is 12:00am. If racers do not make this time cutoff they will not receive their first medal.


8:08pm – last racer arrived to work on cairns. Many racers heading towards the volcano or hiking up the volcano. Leaders are closer to the top at this point. The top of the volcano is about 60 degrees to night, wet, windy and cold. Racers have already swam several times today and most are in great spirits.


8:57pm – All racers except Luz Elena Sequeira have completed the cairns task. She is half way through. All have started or are beginning their ascents up Maderas. They will stay up there until the race starts again at 3pm. The time from the first stage will be added to their race time tomorrow to determine final official finish time.


9:00pm – All racers except the final racer have started their ascent up the mountain. All are carrying 5 or 3 gallons of water (1 gallon jugs). They must reach the top of the climb with the jugs intact full of water. Top racers should have arrived at the top by now. They have the next couple of hours to rest at the top of the volcano. It’s going to be a cold, wet couple hours. All racers were required to have emergency blankets as part of required gear. It will be a rough night for our racers. And the fun has only begun!


9:37pm – When racers arrive at the top of Maderas they will be instructed to swim across the lagoon in the crater. Once they swim across the lagoon they will be given an egg they must care for overnight until the race resumes at 3:00am.


10:00pm – First racer DNF’s Luz Elena Sequeira withdraws from the race prior to the climb up Madera with the water jugs. She is not injured and will be looking forward to a trail race on Saturday here on the island.


10:56pm – Update from atop the crater on Maderas. Four racers had reached the top and were there.


11:00pm – Volunteers have two bottles of rum for racers to help keep them warm on top of the volcano. Nothing like a shot of rum to keep you warm after a swim in a lagoon.


11:01pm – Dave Gluhareff has dropped from the race. Half way up the volcano he turned around and decided to no longer continue.


12:15am –  RD Josue Stephens was connecting with those on top of crater via Delorme and those with the back of the pack via phone. Full list of those who made the 12am cutoff will come in the morning.


3:00am – Leaving HQ to go out in the field. Racers will be told to descend the volcano. That egg they watched over all night is their breakfast. It’s hard boiled.


4:35am –  Nick Hollon arrives to check point off the volcano. He is given a long 20+ foot bamboo pole, then instructed to carry it down the road about 5K meet a volunteer and get his next assignment.



5:01am – Ben Slow and Chris Shanks arrive together at check point. Get bamboo and continue racing


5:37am – Bryan Selm arrives at check-in and gets his bamboo


5:45am – Johnson Cruz arrives and gets his bamboo quickly followed by Camille Adams the first woman to arrive.


5:50am – Mike Ruhlin arrives gets bamboo followed by Jorge Enrique Corea Arguello


5:59am – John Taylor and Kelly Koehler arrive at check in leaders are already on next task climbing 8 trees after carrying bamboo over 5K down the rugged dirt roads.


6:10am – Paco Raptor arrives is given instructions and departs again.


6:28am – Large group arrives and Brian Lynch, Jason Henline, and John Taylor quit the race. Joshua Grant thinks hard about quitting or a while and decides to continue racing. Harrison Mitchell Lessans arrives and decides to continue the race. Soon after Marcos Capurro arrives and continues on. Followed by Peter St. John and Edgar Landa working together. Edgar is helping sign to Peter. Both are still all smiles.


6:59am – David Kalal, Colin Gilbertson, Carlos Ixcot, Joe Crupi, Dalton Houser all arrive together. Dalton decides to quit the race. Joe Crupi continues on David, Carlos, and Colin all stop to eat after a night on the volcano, losing a lot of race time. David Kalal wanted to DNF then after eating is still in the race.


7:05am – Bev Watson, Shane Mckay, Will Mckenna all arrive together followed closely by Nele Schulze. Will decided to DNF. Bev and Shane think about it for a while then continue on. Nele fixes some blister issues and continues on.


7:08am – Eddie Yanick, Laura Svette, Nick Corona, all arrive and decide to quit. Paul Kavanagh arrives with them and continues on racing.


7:20am – Ben Slow has taken the lead from Nick Hollon now in third and Chris Shanks in second. The top two guys have broken away from Nick. Hiking has proved to be an achilles heal in the otherwise unbreakable athlete.


7:45am – Last of the breakfast crew leaves the checkin for the bamboo. Ben has taken a strong lead and dropped Chris.


9:00am – Ben Slow has finished the free dive to get a bracelet has two medals and is headed towards the volcano. Chris missed a couple tree climbs and only has one medal. Status of Nick is not official but believe he missed a couple climbs and only has one medal.

10:08am – All below have completed the first two tree climbs successfully or unsuccessfully and are moving on.

Johnson Cruz
Bryan Selm
Jorge Enrique Corea Arguello
Mike Ruhlin
Camille Adams
Paco Raptor
Kelley Koehler
Marcos Capurro
Josh Grant
Peter St. John
Edgar Landa
Harrison Mitchell Lessans
Paul Kavanagh

Joe Crupi
Nele Schulze
Bev Watson
Shane McKay
Colin Gilbertson
Carlos Ixcot
David Kalal

10:15am List of DNF’s

William Blore
Jamie Boyle
Nick Corona
Daren De Heras
Hans Estrada
David GLuhareff
Jason Henline
Dalton Houser
Brain Lynch
William Mckenna
Gabriela Roney
Luz Elena Sequeira
Laura Svette
John Taylor
Eddie Yanick


Wednesday morning Ben took a commanding lead over Nick and opened up over an hour to hour and a half lead leaving the tree climbs. Chris was traveling with Ben however he had failed to complete at least one tree climb and did not receive that medal. The other racers were a distance behind the front three. Some struggled with the series of 8 tree climbs, others banded together and built a raft. The racers waded through 5K of knee to waist deep water with their bamboo as they climbed up the trees. One of the highlights was the racers built a ladder out of stumps, logs, and rocks in order to climb one of the trees.


The next cut off at 1:30pm knocked out a couple racers who were unable to complete the climbs by that time. The next obstacle was a free dive down below an old dock. Racers had to dive in murky water to retrieve wristbands. Some divers it took 20+ times to get one wristband. A challenging obstacle for many racers.


After completing the dive the racers ran to the base of Concepcion and began to ascend the volcano to the next challenge. Ben still had a strong lead of over an hour heading up the volcano, however Nick started making up time quickly on Ben. By the time they got to the top of the Volcano the gap had closed to 5 minutes. Nick had charged up the mountain! Chris had dropped out at the beginning of the climb. Johnson Cruz was now in 3rd place. List of racers still in the race who attempted the climb:

Ben Slow
Nick Hollon
Johnson Cruz
Paco Raptor
Joshua Grant
Bryan Selm
Jorge Enrique Corea Arguello
Kelley Koehler
Mike Ruhlin

Josh, Bryan, Jorge all climbed to a certain point and turned around missing reaching the top of the volcano. Kelly and Mike got close to the top but missed the 4:30 cut off to complete the traverse around the rim of the active volcano.


The racers who successfully traversed the volcano were Nick, Ben, Johnson and Paco just made traverse cutoff arriving only minutes before 4:30pm the cutoff and was able to continue. These four then needed to collect (cut down) 15 manicata leaves, a task local guides do to help keep the trails open. These are HUGE leaves and they had to carry them off the volcano to the start of the trailhead. Once they arrived at the base of the trail head they received their 3rd medal.


Coming off the volcano Nick had taken over the lead again from Ben and was opening a strong lead. Johnson was trying to close the gap but Ben was pushing hard as well. Paco was further behind but still moving forward and showed no signs of weakness.


Nick arrived to the same swim they had completed as part of packet pickup. Here he was instructed to swim out to the island and retrieve the egg he had dropped off there yesterday. Ben arrived as Nick completed the 1/2 mile swim. Nick was then instructed to build a 50lb bundle of wood and carry it 4K to the finish over rocks along the shoreline.


Nick was the first to cross the finish line. Ben had completed the swim and was moving towards the finish but could not make up the time on Nick. Johnson had started his swim after Nick finished. Paco was still descending the mountain.


Ben crossed the finish line 20 – 30 minutes behind Nick. He was welcomed by a flood of friends at the finish who had come in from different parts of the island to watch this local expat farmer and restaurant owner finish the race. The emotions were palpable.


Johnson would finish the race about an hour to an hour and a half after Ben. He dropped his bundle to a sea of excitement from other racers and locals who watched the former champion finish Survival Run once again. Paco was still coming off the mountain.


Paco did not make the 7pm cutoff to make the final swim and was instructed instead to make his bundle of wood and proceed down the shoreline. He would not be able to earn his final medal. He crossed the finish line after 9pm local time and was awarded as well as the other three a red devil mask being the last of the four who crossed the finish line.


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