First off, let me tell you the theme of this year's race: Betrayal. Anyone could betray anyone. The race directors, volunteer race staff, etc. Thing is, we volunteers had no idea what the hell was going on moment to moment like the racers. We were told to show up and it evolved moment to moment. I had no idea what was going on until the two volunteer coordinators got a call from one of the race directors and told them what was next. One minute, "get ready, there is going to be an influx of racers" to "get ready, support crews will be coming back" or "sorry, they are 12 hours behind so we have to sit here all day". It was intense not knowing what was going on. Personally, I wanted to be out in the woods with the racers, watching them.
So, I did not realize how much the theme of Betrayal was going to affect me personally, especially not really knowing what types of betrayal was going to happen. See, my personality type is ESFJ. Click on the link and you will see "The Caregiver." Yeah, this was going to be tough for me. Here are some attributes of ESFJs:
- ESFJs are people persons - they love people. They are warmly interested in others.
- ESFJs at their best are warm, sympathetic, helpful, cooperative, tactful, down-to-earth, practical, thorough, consistent, organized, enthusiastic, and energetic. They enjoy tradition and security, and will seek stable lives that are rich in contact with friends and family.
- strong value system that is ethical and centered around genuine goodness will most likely be the kindest, most generous souls who will gladly give you the shirt off of their back without a second thought.
So, betraying these racers who have trained all year for one of the toughest races in the world turned out to be TOUGH for me. I sat in my car after day two and cried my eyes out. At that moment, I was feeling like a dork thinking "why the hell was I crying!?!!?" I did not figure this out until a couple days after the race that it is not who I am to tell people they were disqualified or have them go in the opposite direction of succeeding. This was my own death race!
On Friday, I showed up at noon to get the low down on the weekend from Andy and the two volunteer coordinators. Pretty much they said we need to stay sharp because this is life or death. Okay, here we go...stay focused! And, that was it! Nothing else. I went out with one of the three race designers (and death racer finisher from past years), Jack Cary, and a group of high school students to post pictures on trees on the trail and also off trail between Amee Farm and Riverside Farm. Again, I had no idea what they meant or why. "Make sure you have a ticket." A Confucius quote. Picture of someone stabbing someone in the back. A picture of Judas (I thought it was Jesus. Ha!). Anyway, right away, I was bushwhacking in the woods and loving it. We saw a few racers trying to find the scale on top of the mountain to weigh in. Then, we went back to Amee Farm and waited for the next tasks.
|Jack Cary, Andy Weinberg and Chris Davis|
at the volunteer check in
|Volunteer check in at the pool house|
Racers were told to sew their number on there shirts. So, I got to chat with a few of them and take some pictures. Then, the racers were told to crawl through a culvert which was super small and gross. Then, they had to do a swim test in a literally shitty duck pond and then chop crap loads of wood and haul it across the street. Spirits were high and people were trucking along. Then, they were were told to pass in there ID and keys. I was so glad to be doing this task because I got to know names with faces!! Johnny Waite! Ameila Boone! Olaf Dallner! And, several others that I could list. Holy smokes, these people are tough and it was so nice to see them although things were moving so fast I could not say hi or chat. But, I feel privileged to have seen these people before they started their 60+ hours of hell.
|Margaret "Dirt in Your Skirt" Schlachter|
After they passed in their IDs, they were told to get to a kayak and lift it over there heads. One group actually had a massive tractor tire. Ugh. They trudged these items across the road to the duck pond, ran back to get their packs, axes, buckets, etc, that they would be carrying for the remainder of the weekend, and then were told to drop the stuff and jump into the duck pond. 250 people in the pond and then Andy dumps a bucket of ping pong balls in and each had a number. The racers had to find their groups and then after Andy's safety talk and telling them they would all most likely quit, they got out of the pond, assembled in their groups, picked up a kayak or tire or water tube and then they were off. This was 6pm and they would be carrying these items over there heads all night to Chittenden Reservoir over hellish territory (which we did not know at that time). I was due back the next day at 7:30am. I could not wait to see them back at the farm and see what was in store for them.
|safety talk, ironically in a pond of duck shit|
|two of the race directors, Andy Weinberg and Joe Desena|
|Find a ping pong ball and find your group!|
|trying to find groups|
|"get your stuff back on now!"|
|"100 burpees now and don't drop the kayak!"|
|holy shit, the tire guys...heading out to carry that sucker|
for 12+hours in the woods all night and then some
|going to be along night|
|Joe Desena sweeping, walkie in hand and getting the troops out there|
Saturday, June 16. They did not come back. We were told they were still hiking and 12 hours behind and would not be seeing them until 7 or 8pm. WHAT??? My heart was broken! I wanted to see more inspiring stuff! That was my goal for the weekend, to be witnessing some crazy stuff and to grow from it. So, what was I going to do all day? Parked cars, spoke with support crew and family who were worried and wondering what was happening. "Sorry, we have no idea. All we can tell you is that your racer is still on the course or not." Peter Borden, another race coordinator, told support crew and family to go enjoy the day, go tubing, sight seeing, etc, because they would not see their racer until late evening. Then, we started seeing the first round of racers who were quitting, mostly due to injuries, trench foot, bad knees, one guy had been taken to the hospital the night before. People's bodies were breaking down. And, we volunteers had no idea why and what was going on out there! So, as racers were coming back, I chatted it up with them. They each had their own story of what happened to them and this is where my ESFJness kicked in. I wanted to help them get back to their cars, listen to their stories, get them ice for their injuries, etc. I LOVED this. This is what I wanted, to hear the stories of their experience if I was not going to be able to be out there and witness it. I witnessed both men and woman racers crying because they could not keep going because of injury. I cried with one woman as I watched her acceptance that her feet were so fucked up that she could not go on. That was tough. I was a mess.
|Peter Borden telling support crew and family to go make|
a day of it. The racers are 12 hours behind
|Peter reading a list of DNFs who were going to come back shortly|
|social media updates|
|The tire is coming back!|
|Andy is back! "I am so A.D.D. right now |
and it is insane on the mountain right now!"
Later on in the day, Andy radioed in and said that some people were being disqualified and we would have to tell people the same (I don't remember why they were being DQ'd). I told the volunteer coordinator I could not tell them they were disqualified and that someone else was going to have to. Nope, could not do it. I am not that tough to be a part of that betrayal. So, I parked cars.
Towards evening on Saturday night, my time as a volunteer was coming to and end. And, all of a sudden Andy shows up, no worse for the wear (must have been all adrenaline because he had been up just as long as the racers) and tells us soon the first place racer would be coming down the mountain with a large log. SHIT. Stuff was starting to happen after sitting around all day and it was 8pm! I had to drive home so I stayed until 9:30pm. I got back to my car and sat down and cried. And cried. I was emotionally drained. I watched people quit, get DQ'd, suffering all day and, damn, it took a toll on me! I was not expecting it but as soon as I sat down, I could not stop crying. Wow. I was absolutely moved by the events, the strength of the racers and was also crying because I wanted to see what the next 30 hours was going to bring these amazing athletes. I kept my eyes on the Spartan Death Race FB page the next day or so and was thankful for those who were keeping us updated.
|this is about the time I left. Some of the racers would|
continue on until hour 68. SNAP.
So, here is the list of the finishers. I am amazed at their accomplishment. I can't wait to help out again next year, and would love to help out at the winter death race as well.
Thank you, racers, for inspiring me. Also, I would like to say I am in awe of what the three race directors created. I mean really, it takes some genius to come up with that race and to maintain the vibe and safety and quick decision making for 68 hours. Hats off.
See you next year.