I was the first to enter the chapel, half expecting something to jump out and scare us. Fortunately, that did not happen. What was there in its place was John Shue taking a cat nap with our rucks. Hopefully he was not able to sleep comfortably!! He was there to ask six questions, each having to do with a date that was on the sign at the bottom of the hill. At the time, we did not know the consequences for getting one wrong. I got 5 of the 6 wrong…..350 burpees were my penalty. As each one of us entered and exited the chapel, the most anyone got right were 2 by Stefanie. This would have been a great time to give up our tokens, which were earned weeks before by doing challenges. T.J. and Rodrigo did and I might have IF I would not have lost them! 350 burpees later, which may have been an hour or so, I sat down to eat my first Meal Ready to Eat (MRE). I believe all the Burpees caused my stomach to be upset which really made the MRE taste nasty!
T.J. got his burpees done pretty quickly and was off to a huge lead over the rest of us, maybe 30-45 minutes. The rest of us got done and headed down a “bush-whacking” path I can only assume was thought up from Spartan Race’s Ultra Beast. With the leaves littered all over the “path”, it became apparent this was not to be messed with as each step we took always led to us slipping and rocks getting loose under our weight. Finally, a fence to grab a hold of……SHIT, barb wire fence! Not only that, but if you did not have a tetanus shot in the past 10 years, now was a great time to do it! I get a little foggy on where we came out but when we did, we started following trails, at one time passing by T.J., most likely on the next task that we were coming upon. It seemed like the rolling hills got a little higher with a couple steep ones as we came up on the cabin. We had lost Stefanie and Ryan again but were sure they were right behind us.
Richard was there waiting for us with the next task. This time, we were to go back out following a different path up and around till we come back out on the same path we came in on and follow the markers. Our goal was to bring back 15 pounds of orange spray painted rocks and have them weighed. If we did not have the proper weight, we would have to back and do it again. The loop was at least a few miles. With that knowledge in hand, Rodrigo and I headed out to gain some ground on T.J. We were making great time along the trail when all of a sudden it veered off into the woods. They must have thought we loved making our own trails!! As we hit the first raven, we both looked up to see a cluster of fallen trees in OUR raven! So, after a bunch of overs and unders, with all our gear minus the axe, we are at the top of the raven looking around for the markers. This probably frustrated the two of us the most because had we looked around at all, we would have seen the markers shoot off to the left halfway up. Back down, to the right and continue on to the second raven. This time, our eyes were only looking for those damn evasive markers! After doing a few figure eights around some evergreen trees, we arrived at the stones….finally! Since we had our 20 pound sand pill, we used that to judge how many pounds of rocks we needed.
Heading back down, we picked up the pace a little bit so we could try and make up ground on T.J. once again. Arriving back to the cabin, we each took our turns weighing our rocks. Both of us not only got the 15 pounds, but more than doubled what we needed. This is where we learned that Stefanie and Ryan had dropped, with Stef having an IT band issue. I feel I know Stefanie pretty well and Ryan not so much, but they showed what they were made of. Out of 12 that signed up, they were 2 of the 5 that showed up.
Hitting the 15+ pounds of rocks earned us our axe back, which we started using right away. Mine was new until Michael Sandercock decided to pop its wood cherry! Thanks Michael!! We were told to chop 4 logs total, 3 of them however many pieces we wanted, but the 4th into 6 pieces. Those 6 pieces we needed to carry back to the farm along with all of our gear, including axe this time. I shot through the wood chopping pretty quickly and headed out while Rodrigo was still chopping. I walked with Stefanie and Ryan for a little while but knew that I needed to pick up the pace in order to make up for lost time and keep what little lead over Rodrigo that I had.
Making it back to the farm was a welcome relief, at least from walking! As I walked up, I saw T.J. chopping a log roughly 4 foot in length in half. We didn’t know this at the time, but this was Stage 2 which consisted of chopping 3 of those logs in half and splitting them to get at least 12 logs per log. This stage is where I really caught up to T.J. I’ve done some wood splitting in my day all starting when I was in middle school and helped my uncle split wood for his shop. Obviously, the lead didn’t really matter much except for how much rest time we were able to get out of it but I did complete the task only 5-10 minutes behind him. Rodrigo had a tough go, partly because the first log he picked was a nasty one! Rodrigo, I bet you can chop some firewood now! Second MRE eaten and refilled water, ready for anything!
Stage 3 consisted of a team effort, two slosh pipes duct taped together and the three of us had to touch it the entire time. Off we headed, unsure of where or how far we had to go. It was rough going for a while as we were getting used to each other and the height difference made it harder than it needed to be. All of a sudden, we were off the road and going through a field. Not too bad, oh shit, spoke to soon. Up a long hill which didn’t seem to end even though that may have been the slosh pipe talking. We make one last turn to a nice fire with Chad waiting for us. As we get there, put down the pipe, and take our packs off, turn around to Tony giving us a 103 question test…..really!?! And the questions, most of them must have come from a priest or Harvard professor, or maybe it was the brain just malfunctioning… Between nodding off and rubbing my eyes, the test could have accidentally flown into the fire and I would have not minded one bit. With the test done and the fire out, packs on and slosh pipe back in hand, this time with a rope contraption Rodrigo came up with that took a lot of pressure off of the rest of us and stabilized it quite a bit. We made great time back knowing how far we had to go and it was a very uplifting and rewarding stage for us as a team!
Stage 4 was by far my strongest just because of what was involved. At the beginning of the Camp, we were told to line up 9 rocks by size, then 3 sets of 2 tires by size, and 2 75 lb. railroad ties with handles in them not knowing what they would be used for. This, we found out, was the reason. For time, we had to lift the first 4 rocks above our head, the next 3 to our chest, and the last one just a squat. From there, 10 tire flips out and back for the first 2 tires, 5 tire flips out and back for the next 4 tires. Finally, with one railroad tie in each hand, walk down, around a chem light roughly 25 yards out and back to finish our times. T.J. was up first, and I noticed he started quick and was burning out halfway through but still finished with a time of 4:45 (somewhere around there). I was up second and kept a pretty good pace making sure at the tire flips to control how much it wanted to wobble after each flip, which is the reason I think I got 4:15. Rodrigo was flying pretty quickly through until the tire flips when he slowed because of the way the tire flips wobbled so much and ended with a time of 5:21.
In my training, I have included a lot of hill running, which was evident how I was better able to catch people and leave people behind for at least a short while all throughout this camp. So, when stage 5 was revealed to us that it was a 2 mile run, I felt very confident about my abilities. Out to the road we went, waiting for Tony to give us the word, and we were off. T.J. took off and Rodrigo and I pretty much kept up with each other pacing T.J. by about 25 yards or so. My thinking the whole time was at the turnaround, I would turn it up and take care of business. With us getting closer, I see T.J. got there and turned around. Here is the turn, if there was a time, now was the time to do what I need to do…..