As we headed out on foot the sun was shining, my feet were dry and I was warm.
For about five seconds. We soon ducked under a guardrail and crossed a new stream, born out of the storms. Everyone else leaped across. I tried, missed and found myself shin-deep in the dirty rushing water.
Well, shit. I guess changing my socks turned out to be the most pointless thing I did all day.
Fortunately the CP was sitting there right where those on the team who know how a map works (i.e. not me) expected it to be and we were off. The next point, however, did a good job hiding from us. Everyone but me (again, I am basically useless with direction) stared at the map and strategized as to where the CP might be. Apparently the map was from the dawn of time and thus didn’t include the roads, cabins, campgrounds, houses and giant cell phone towers that would have otherwise served as helpful landmarks.
Instead we were relegated to using actual land features – CP clues told us to look for saddles, spurs and reentrants.
We spent a particularly frustrating 45 minutes of seemingly aimless wandering without snagging a pesky point described as a “reentrant on the back of a power line.” After about 44 of these minutes I realized I had no idea what we were looking for.
“What the fuck is a reentrant?” I asked. (Sorry, Mom. I said “fuck.”)
“You mean you’ve been looking for this thing without knowing what we were actually looking for?” Brad Jason asked.
“Uh, yeah. I was really just looking for the orange and white flag.”
And then, magic.
“I know where it is!” a suddenly inspired Bill yelled. He took off down the power line, ducked into the woods and there it was. Didn’t seem so difficult after all.
After the Great Reentrant Debacle of 2011 we chugged along punching points at a steady pace. We soon yanked on our headlamps and I found myself playing in the woods in the dark. Fun! The boys would get us to the feature and then Val, who apparently eats carrots by the ton and is part owl, would pick the point out of the dark.
I contributed to the team effort by eating M&Ms and walking in circles.
After a bit we found ourselves at a gate and a wire fence. All of four feet tall, the gate made an easy obstacle. Except I decided that going under the wire fence would be easier. Under I went. And got stuck. My teammates helped pluck me out of the mess but I became the most muddy member of our team in the process. After a slog through a few inches of water and other junk we easily grabbed the point.
“God, I must be getting really tired,” I said. “I am hallucinating that we are walking through giant piles of wet cow shit.”
“Yeah, we ARE walking through giant piles of wet cow shit,” chorused my team.
A few steps later I realized that, thanks to going under the wire, my right arm had been christened with poop. Although the rest of me was nearly as gross it became imperative that I wipe the poop off as soon as humanly possible on the thing closest to me. The only thing close at that point would have been Val, and I am not that mean, so I scraped it off on a trail sign farther down the path. Vandalism at its finest.
We continued on foot and were around about a dozen other teams for an hour or two. I figured that we were well toward the back of the pack as we finally strolled back into transition at about 1 in the morning.
I was surprised when the boys handed in our passport and said that the race officials said that we’d gotten a lot of optional CPs compared to many of the other teams. I decided that they were just being nice and that we were in fact in DFL.
There was an optional team challenge that we decided to tackle next. We had to get three barrels, two 1 x 6 planks and all of us across a 50-foot plot of land without any of us, or either of the planks, touching the ground. For 20 minutes I found myself wedged between B.J. and Val with Bill bringing up the rear. We are now prepared to represent the U.S. in bobsled in the 2014 Olympics. Smooshed together, we scooted, moved barrels, passed along the planks and successfully made it across.
Only 13 miles of muddy, semi-technical biking stood between us and the finish line at that point. Although at the time 13 miles seemed like 130. As we started off a few teams were heading in from the foot section. Many looked like they were about to fall over and pull a Rip Van Winkle, pulling each other along, staggering, using sticks as crutches. I know it was mean of me, but I was motivated by their struggles. “I know I don’t look as bad as they do, because they look amazingly terrible.” When the bike got tough this became my inspiration.
There’s a special place in hell for me, I know.
My brain was getting extra mushy, so here’s what I remember about the bike: Wet trail, dry road. Wet trail. Wet muddy trail. Wet muddy hilly trail with lots of rocks. Get off bike. Push bike up hill. Get back on. Slide around. Get back off. Ride down hill. Lose ability to brake thanks to the mud and the wet. Get back on bike. Pedal. Push. Stop. Stare at lost helmetless team wearing Dockers torn off at the knees and torn up to their crotch. Wonder where their helmets went. Wonder why they thought biking in tightywhities was a good plan. Pedal. Get off again. Barf. Stand still. Contemplate the fact I just barfed. Think about the fact that I’ve never barfed in a race before. Try to eat something. Dry heave. See Bill’s tail light fading ahead of me. Don’t want to be left all alone so get back on and keep going.
My teammates were kind as I moseyed along, knowing that I could keep going, just that I couldn’t keep going hard. The three of them all took turns hanging back with me, which was not only nice but probably also prevented me from having a screaming temper tantrum, so we all won out in the end.
And then, darkness. My bike light decided to shine no more, leaving me with just my headlamp to light the trail. Amazingly unfun. Bill told me we were almost done but I decided he was lying. Val stayed behind me so I could benefit from her light a bit and B.J. would ride ahead, turning his bike around to light the way for me as best as he could.
Turns out Bill isn’t so much of a liar after all. We spit out onto a sloppy, flat trail and could see the finish line off in the distance.
Sweet! We pedaled on, a bit faster now, and crossed the line with the usual adventure race lack of finish line fanfare.
Eighth place overall out of 42 teams, seventh place in our division of about 22 teams. Considering my goal was to finish and then not be dead last, I am sort of thrilled.
But I still don't know what a reentrant is.
Want to see before and after pictures?
BEFORE: We are holding Christmas ornaments that were oddly for sale at the race check-in at an outdoor store.
AFTER: We are dirty. And maybe I could have seen better on the bike had my headlamp not been actually covering my eyeballs.
But wait, there's more. B.J. is the only one who looks remotely badass. Val looks like she is auditioning to be the latest member of KrissKross, I am apparently incapable of making a serious face and Bill is thinking "This is what I am married to for the rest of my life?"