***Editor’s Note: To get caught up (and to see Bob in a Gold Speedo) you should read this first. This race report was written by Luke with comments added by Bob in Green and by Kage in Blue. ***
When we last left you, the Tributes from District 69 (AKA Team Virtus) had just completed the rappel and Bob had just worn the Gold Speedo, making good on his bet. We were all blown away by his incredible sexiness and had a great time giving his tiny penis nicknames like “gumdrop” and “Christmas light”.
For the record, the creekwater was super cold.
With laughter in our hearts and the image of Goldmember-Bob permanently etched into our minds, we left the rappel. Bob had paid off his bet in a big way, but for some reason he still wore the Gold Speedo. Why? Because he looked so damn good in it, that’s why!
Mostly, I did that because it was so tight I didn’t think I’d be able to dislodge it from my ass.
We made our way to the bike drop, but with a little less than half a mile to go, Bob had to change out of the Speedo. Some serious chafing issues forced him to strip down and put some real shorts on.
We made it to the Bike TA shortly ahead of WTFAR/TR, but they beat us out of there on the bikes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We need to work on our transition times. We changed out of our wet clothes, and no, we didn’t go back to our cabin or hide behind a tree. If the Capitol wanted a show, we were going to give it to them. So we just dropped trou and changed clothes (of course Kage went to hide behind something since she is the only female on our team and has at least a modicum of modesty… for now anyway).
Leg 2 – Biking
Then we hopped on our bikes and started out on the gravel road leading out of Camp Benson. Something was wrong, though. Our legs felt dead. None of us had anything in our legs. We thought maybe we just needed to spin them out a bit, but even after 10 or 15 minutes, they weren’t coming back. It became clear that the Head Gamemaker, Gerry Voelliger, had planned this. He forced us into the river on foot, leading to the destruction of our hip flexors and quads from coasteering through the water. Well played, Gerry… Well played.
The first biking leg was only 11 miles or so, mostly on gravel. Our legs never cooperated, and we lost a bit of time here. But we had a lot of racing still ahead of us. The sun had just come up and the sky began to brighten as we rolled into the second transition area (TA) a little after 6:00 AM. It was here where we first met our friend Chad and his beautiful family. They are amazing volunteers – as are all of the volunteers involved with High Profile Adventure Racing.
Unfortunately, my waterproof map case was uh… Not so waterproof. Here’s a little tip for all you out there: MAKE SURE YOUR MAP CASE IS INDEED WATERPROOF! Apparently, my map case had a couple of tiny, imperceptible holes in it. The maps were soaked, and all of the highlighting we had done was gone. Fortunately, the maps for the next section were nice and dry inside Bob’s map case. We laid the maps out to dry at the TA as we headed out on foot for the next orienteering leg.
Leg 2 – Orienteering
It seems like the first Checkpoint (CP) of an orienteering leg always gives us problems. After a small hiccup, we managed to find it, and then we started reeling them in one after another with no problems. We really focused on staying in contact with the map and not wasting time. Before we knew it, we had gotten the first 17 CP’s without any major issues. We were gaining momentum and confidence. Sure there were lots of thorns and stinging nettles (what race created by Gerry Voelliger doesn’t?). But overall things were going very well for us… For now.
When things go well, viewers of the Thunder Games get bored. So Head Gamemaker Gerry decided to spice things up. We were bushwhacking through some thick undergrowth, I in the lead followed by Kage and then Bob, when I heard Kage say, “Ow!” She followed this with, “Ow… Ow, ow!” I assumed she got caught in some thorns. But then the “Ow’s” grew in both frequency and urgency. Before I could turn around to see what was happening, I heard Bob yell (and it will forever be replayed in my mind in super slow-motion):
“BEEEEEES! RUN! RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!”
I took off in a sprint with Kage right on my heels. Unsure of where Bob was, we just kept running – ripping through the brush as we tried to escape the nasty insects which we later figured out were actually yellow jackets. After what felt like a 4-mile sprint (although it was probably only a couple hundred yards), we stopped, panting and confused. Kage let out another, “Ow!” So we ran a little bit more. We had narrowly escaped the killer swarm, but a few yellow jackets had remained on Kage’s socks and on my long pants. My pants were apparently baggy enough that no stingers could reach me. ***NOTE: Pack and WEAR long pants on any and all orienteering sections at a Gerry-Voelliger-Directed Race.***
I remember noticing a spot on the ground devoid of leaves, and wondering if it was some kind of deer-sign. Then I saw that it was boiling with pissed off, winged insects. Then came the stings, the yelling, and that’s when I tore ass running the other way. I was really lucky to only be stung once on the face, as I was running with my eyes closed and hands over my face. The stings on my arms hurt too, but the one on my face was legit.
We swatted off the last few stragglers as Bob came out of nowhere to join us. We had to assess the damage. Bob took a few stings to the arms and one on his bearded chin. Kage only took between 20 and 50 stings (no exaggeration – there were too many to get an accurate count). I, however, got the worst of it. As I ran from the yellow jackets, I suffered a half-inch scratch on my hand from the stupid thorns. It really hurt. All I could do was hope it wouldn’t get infected. I tried to stay strong for my team, though, so I kept quiet about it.
Now if you’ve never been stung by a yellow jacket (let alone 20 or more of them), then let me tell you this: It hurts badly and it burns like flames blazing from the depths of hell – kind of like my scratch did. As bad as my scratch was, I guess I have to admit that it wasn’t as bad as Bob and especially Kage had it. We kind of stood there, stunned, sweating, and out of breath. I can’t even imagine the pain they were feeling.
It hurt sooo much.
As you, dear reader, may or may not know, I am an idiot. Sometimes I say things without thinking, and oftentimes those things come out at the worst possible time and everyone stares at me in awkward silence. This, fortunately, was not one of those times. I said something like, “Hey… If those would have been Tracker Jackers, you guys would be hallucinating right now. And then you’d probably die.”
Like I said, I’m an idiot. And this was a really dumb thing to say, but it seemed to distract Bob and Kage from the pain, and we all actually L’dOL about it.
It was hilarious and probably the difference between crying and not crying.
I already knew that women are tougher than men (watching my wife give birth to 4 children and deal with 4 kidney stones while pregnant proved this to me), and seeing Kage deal with her pain only confirmed this fact. I still haven’t ever heard her complain about anything, even through all of this. And since Kage was being so tough, Bob had to be tough too. And since they were both being tough, I had to be tough and keep quiet about my thorn scratch.
Thanks to that whole “Kate never complains” (semi-undeserved) reputation, I felt like I really couldn’t complain. It’s actually a pretty brilliant strategy on Bob and Luke’s part to avoid listening to me whine all the time. That said, I did a lot of whimpering on the inside and definitely let it rattle me. Not fear-wise, but I don’t know…I was pretty shattered.
So we decided to just keep going even though my two teammates must have been dealing with, in medical terms, a crap-ton of pain. You would think that after unleashing a swarm of yellow jackets on us, the Head Gamemaker would give us a break with some easy navigation over flat, brush-free terrain. Well, you’d be wrong.
CP 19 was located on a powerline, and we found it easily. But we now faced yet another problem: A missing passport. Bob had been in charge of the passport all day, and up until now he’d done a great job of securing the passport in the same pocket after punching it at each CP. When he reached for the passport this time, however, it wasn’t there. He searched all of this pockets. No luck. He searched his pack. Nothing. We all searched our pockets and packs. Nada.
After 15 – 20 minutes of panic, Bob found the elusive passport tucked away deep in a different pocket. Finding that little baby was a HUGE relief, and we were ready to head to the next CP. We decided to follow the powerline as far as we could to the next CP. We had to go up and down some ridiculously steep terrain in the blazing sun, and it was anything but easy.
Losing the passport is absolutely terrifying.
The stings were still burning, although my scratch was feeling better. We were simply baking in the sun, and we were all running low on water. Fortunately, the next CP was at a campground where we figured we could fill up with water, relax for a bit, use a real toilet, and cool off. And that’s just what we did.
With her legs still on fire, Kage ran cold water over her wounds. It seemed to help ease the pain a little bit. We filled up with water, ate some food, and rested for a bit. What started as a short break quickly turned into an hour. Eventually, we decided to move on from our sweet, sweet refuge.
There was a woman camping there who brought us cold drinks, too. I wasn’t impressed with my first taste of coconut water, but it was really nice of her.
The next several CP’s came and went pretty quickly and easily. The yellow jackets may have slowed us down a bit, but we were still going and still having fun. Gerry Voelliger never disappoints. He seems to design the best course with some of the most challenging and unique locations for CP’s. Case in point:
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at the Ascending portion of the race. And this was no short, little ascent. This was a HUGE! We knew Kate had been pretty worried about ascending, but I never thought it would be that big of a deal. That is until I saw the cliff.
I had tried ascending the previous day at the practice wall and managed ok, though I was exhausted by the time I hit the top. It went well enough that I felt cautiously optimistic…until I looked up…and up…the cliff we were about to ascend.
As if the coasteering, biking, orienteering, and yellow jacket attack wasn’t enough, we were now faced with this monster of a cliff. We could almost hear Head Gamemaker Gerry Voelliger laughing his ass off back at the Capitol.
Will the Tributes from District 69 surrender and admit defeat? Will they summon the strength and honor needed to make it up the cliff? Will Bob wear the Gold Speedo again? Will Luke’s scratch become infected? Will there be any more killer swarms? Stay tuned to find out.