Preface: Anthony Matesi is one of the best guys I have met and his willingness to offer advice while still making this a challenging event was impressive. Thank you Tony, for doing this because this was a great building block for my run at the Death Race 2013 and life in general. Please make sure to follow his blog as well, at www.legendofthedeathrace.com.
In the week leading up to the Legend of the Death Race Training Camp (LotDRTC), I did not have the usual nerves leading up to a race. I don’t know whether it was because I did not want to freak myself out or if it was the way I was mentally preparing for this. All I know is that the more races I do, the more the unknown variables don’t matter, only mentally prepare me for whatever evil the race director has in store for us.
With Anthony Matesi’s LotDRTC, it was no different, only a guaranteed 20+ hours of torment, “Death Race”-like twists and turns, and enough mental games to give the brightest minds a headache. I had been packing for at least a week and rechecking gear, food, and clothing just to make sure everything was in order. When it comes to races, I feel I am the most prepared as far as having directions in order, proper gear for both Laura and I, and know everything leading up to the race is planned out. From the start of the race, there is a large grey area as most of you probably feel the same way.
Friday at 4 A.M. is when the day began for me. Knowing that I would be driving and too excited to take a nap when we arrived in Wisconsin, I knew that I was up for at least 36 hours. As usual, the rest of the family was very slow to get up and around. John Shue showed up around 5 A.M. and with all of us heading out around 5:30 A.M., our arrival time was supposed to be 11 A.M. If you can imagine having 3 adults with a 5-year old and 20-month old in the same vehicle for any amount of time, you know how difficult it can be. After what it seemed like hours of Curious George and Despicable Me mixed in with a little adult music and comedy, we arrived in Marxville, Wisconsin around noon to the open arms of Lisa Weberg. With the LotDRTC being held on a good portion on Chad’s land, he was obviously out helping Tony get some last minute things taken care of. Laura and I feel a bond with Lisa and Chad and it was really great to be able to spend some time with them on their home front. Thank you for having us and making some incredible meals. Oh, and the beer was great!
Registration started at 5 P.M. and five of us showed up pretty quickly. Corn Fed Spartans own Stefanie McKenna was there. Ryan Formosa was with her. T.J. Nomeland, hands down the funniest dentist I have ever met. Rodrigo Velarde was another who had done 6 GoRucks so far. The atmosphere was pretty light and I am not sure any of us knew just how much we would be tested before it was all over.
Even before the 7 P.M. start, we got checked in and Tony verified our gear list, ahem, thanks Chad….. We got our pills weighed and I knew I would be okay but a few us did not quite have enough weight on them. One only needed a little duct tape on it but another had to add a whole brick and had to duct tape it together. With that done, the next thing was just waiting for the race to start and getting to know each other a little bit more since we would be spending the next day with each other without sleep.
Unofficially, the race started at 6:15 P.M. by having us carry split firewood up the hill from what seemed like the furthest away from the firepit. Most likely that was planned. Don’t know how many times we walked back and forth but we were able to rest for about 15 minutes before, we as a team and in unison, started Stage 1 by doing 300 squats with our 30 lb. pill before we could start our trek. If we did not do them together or drop our sand pills, we had to start the whole process over again so we agreed to do a set amount of 10 before breaking and threw in some rounds of 25. Tony’s dad, Richard, kept trying to throw us off only minutes into it by trying to force us to keep going or saying the wrong number of completed squats. Fortunately, our group was focused and ready for that. What we weren’t ready for so soon was Tony coming back when we got to the 250 mark and telling us since we were going so fast to go ahead and go to 500! The best thing about that was we did not skip a beat and just kept going with our routine. Nice try Tony!!
Just prior to those squats, we were told to get our rucks, axes, and buckets around and put them into Chad’s truck because we would be without them for the first part of the race. Having heard stories about last year’s Death Race and people thinking they would not be out long so they did not take the proper nutrition crept into my head. Knowing I had just ate a few hours before reassured myself that I would be okay. They did provide us with a water bottle, a kid-sized 8-ounce water bottle. You know the kind of water bottle that if you take 2 sips, the water is gone!
Stage 1.1 was complete and so started our hike to Indian Lake and to find the chapel to earn our packs back. With Tony leading the way, we kept a pretty quick pace to the culvert that we had to crawl through that went under the road. Thankfully, it had not rained yet or that could have been a very cold muddy mess!! Back to pacing Tony, turning right on CR K to the stream, go left. From there, we were on our own and we were pretty sure we listened to the directions correctly. T.J., Rodrigo, and I started a good jogging pace, I think because we were looking to test each other’s ability to keep up with one another, and after following several different turns and bends, we reached the big parking lot we were told about. We had remembered we needed to stay to the right so we did and found the markers. We were making pretty good time, or so we thought. In the distance, we saw 2 headlamps coming our way. Who could it be? Tony said they would be waiting for us at the chapel. With all the flashing of our lights, did someone call DNR or the cops and they were going to tell us we were done? They would have a fight on their hands if that was the case. Luckily, it was Stefanie and Ryan, which was also confusing because we were far ahead of them. Turns out they had taken a wrong turn and started down the path that we were coming out of. But, where is the chapel? Obviously, it was not back where we came from. We were already wondering what had happened and how we could have missed it. We started retracing the last hour and where we went wrong; going back to the gate we were told to go over earlier. It could not be back that way. So we convinced ourselves to go the same way we had gone before and headed out. What really helped was when we stopped at the parking lot on the south side of Indian Lake and checked out the maps which showed us where the chapel was. It did not give an exact location but we had a general direction. Through the maze to the road, turn right and follow it around to the parking lot we had been at just an hour earlier, but this time Tony and Chad were there to meet us. Turns out, the three of us had gotten there so quickly that they were not there to make sure we went left instead of right. Nothing like adding 3 miles to the unknown total!
At the base of the climb to the chapel is a little history lesson of why the chapel is there, what families maintain it and the important years it was built, dedicated, etc. We were told to memorize it, nothing else. Off we went, heading towards the chapel, both trying to remember hopefully what we needed to and wondering what lie ahead waiting for us. As we approached the chapel, an eerie feeling came over us like we were in a scene of the Blair Witch Project. As we were told to enter one at a time, none of us were certain of what lay on the other side of that door or if we were prepared for it….. TO BE CONTINUED