Let’s face it: Eventers possess a certain level of craziness inherent to their nature. We have to be a little crazy to gallop our horses toward solid obstacles, drops into water, over ditches and the like. Heck, our horses have to be a little crazy, too! So, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary when a few of my Eventer friends suggested we enter a team into an upcoming Savage Race. Our horses run cross-country; why shouldn’t we?? I have to admit, I didn’t prepare as much as I knew I should. Still, I was running 3-4 miles easily on the treadmill, so I knew I could survive a six-mile run with obstacle breaks in between.
Friday afternoon, five people and one very large doberman loaded into a Jeep Cherokee and hit the road for Atlanta. By the time we negotiated the random highway accidents, heavy traffic, rain, and bathroom breaks, we checked into the hotel somewhere around 8pm. As I checked in, I noticed the very obvious “No pets allowed. No exceptions.” sign. I glanced backwards and cringed as I saw the girls unloading Sky from the back of the Jeep. Thankfully, the hotel clerk was busy and either didn’t notice or pretended not to. Once we’d unloaded bags and snuck Sky in through a back entrance (I know at least one of you out there has done this), we headed out in search of sustenance. We ended up at the local Applebees, where we quickly realized this was no typical family dining establishment. There was more of a club atmosphere with loud rap music blaring over the jukebox speakers. We renamed the establishment AppleGs, and rolled with it.
Super procrastinators that we are, we’d waited until the night before to come up with team uniforms. Enter the 10pm trip to Wal-Mart!! Thank goodness for Wal-Mart… The Effing Beasts would be clad in highway worker yellow. Well, except for the hubs. We granted him permission to wear black, and gave him the exception on the knee-high pink socks.
Wake up came at 6:30 am–meaning the hubs & I got to sleep in! Following a quick continental breakfast, we snuck Sky back out with our baggage and headed for the race. The poor guys (husbands endure an awful lot for our sake…) had to endure three girls getting pumped up with an ADHD-riddled musical ensemble. I don’t think we played a single song through its entirety. And we sang along…loudly and out of tune.
It was a cool, cloudy, miserable-looking day. We began to wonder if we’d make a horrendous mistake, but it was too late. Before we knew it, we were in the start corral with another hundred or so folks (out of around 3000 participants–they started everybody in waves) in the competitive division. Who were we kidding? We were going to be competitive against these folks? Too late–the crowd was moving forward, en masse. We hit the mud at a jog, and I struggled to find my rhythm in the ankle-deep sludge. The first obstacle was about 1/4 mile from the start line and aptly titled, “Shrivled Richard.” We climbed the ladder to a waiting icy bath of mud-water and jumped in. The adrenaline was pumping, so the waist-deep water honestly wasn’t too bad. And then I saw the wall ahead. Holy crap. It was best not to think. I took a deep breath, plunged underwater and lunged forward amidst a crowd of kicking legs and waving arms. I came up on the other side with the same expression on my face as every other competitor–eyes and mouth wide open, lips quickly turning a deep shade of purple. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so quickly in my life. But, I didn’t stay cold for long. To get to the next obstacle, we had to run up, around, and down a very massive, very muddy hill. As we struggled to gain purchase up the muddy slope, we had to dodge other folks who slipped back down. We made jokes about keeping our upper bodies back as we slipped and slid down hill, and for those tight turns, we yelled out “outside leg! Outside rein!” I’m sure other competitors thought we were crazy, but we didn’t care.
A lot of the obstacles were straight-forward: crawl in the mud under barbed wire, climb over walls, crawl under more wire in the mud….but then we got to the Colon Blow. Black drainage tubes awaited us after a muddy sludge under more barbed wire. I started in…and then my claustrophobia kicked in, and I quickly backed right out. But, then I forced myself back in, and before I could dwell on my confinement, I began shuffling forwards. I realized I could pretty well crawl on my hands and knees, and since the hubs was moving ahead of me and no one was behind me, I didn’t have a panic attack. I did have nightmares about that obstacle that night, though, that involved me getting stuck in the middle and unable to get out. *shudders* Also along the way was a crawl under electrified wiring (it was like hitting the horse fence over and over again), monkey bars, and a 13′ drop into a deep pool. And hills. A crap ton of hills in between all the 24 obstacles. Somewhere around mile three, I hit my runner’s high and found a new gear. I was having a blast!!
As we came around the way on the last mile, I was almost disappointed that we were nearly finished. But we still had one more obstacle to conquer: the Colossus. I watched as girl after girl and boy after boy took a sprint towards the half-pipe wall, reached for the rope, only to slide back down again. I vowed to reach that rope on the first try. When it was my turn, I took off as hard as I could run, reached for the rope, and struggled for maybe a millisecond–just long enough for me to reject failure–it was not an option. I grabbed the knot at the end of the rope, planted my feet, and began to climb. Thankfully, there were a couple of guys who’d already finished who returned to help people over the ledge. I’m not sure if I could’ve made it on my own. Once I made it, though, I quickly returned the favor–helping guys and girls make it up and over the vertical ledge. Missy and I would grab their arms and hang on until the big guys could make it over to pull them up, lol.
Finally, our whole time was at the top, and it was our turn to slide to the finish. We sat down together, grabbed hands and threw them into the air…all the way down to the final icy bath.
When we crossed the finish line, they hung a medal on our necks and handed us a dry t-shirt…that didn’t stay dry for long. Adrenaline rush fully engaged, we jumped around screaming ecstatically and began posing for pictures.
After a change of clothes, we made our way back into the venue to listen to the band. Out of curiosity, we headed over to the Times board to check our finish time. Out of nowhere, we noticed three of us had placed in our age categories. What?! Obviously, the hubs had run with us and therefore wasn’t competitive in the men’s division, but Missy, Shannon and I had placed 5th, 4th, and 4th repsectively. Our team had finished somewhere around 17th place–not bad, we mused! Although they were only awarding for the top three places, we still hung around for the awards ceremony. When they got to the 30-34 age group, I heard them call out my name. I was confused…somehow, I’d ended up in 3rd place! (To qualify for a placing, you had to complete ALL the obstacles–my guess is that after reviewing, they realized one of the competitors ahead of me hadn’t completed an obstacle.) I ran up and got my bronze medal–in complete shock.
We immediately began plotting our next entry…as competitive as we are, we’re bound and determined to win the next one!!
As a reward, we stopped at the Food Truck Park in Atlanta and gorged ourselves on BBQ and crepes before heading home. Thankfully, Shannon’s husband (who didn’t enter the race) drove us home, so we all got some well-earned sleep on the way.
Yesterday started off cool and cloudy, but the skies finally cleared up after lunch, so I made my way out to the barn…and that’s another post!