Dawn in Dallas
Racers didn’t get much sleep with a 5:00 start time in Dallas. By the time we got to sleep at 11:00 on Saturday night, we only got just over 3 hours of sleep since we were up by 2:15 – out the door by 2:45 – at the park at 3:00 – and in the transition at 3:30. I was amazed at the number of teams arriving that early and that the early start time did not keep anyone away. Once again MESP didn’t reveal the order or distances of events at the pre-race meeting. Instead (vague) instruction books were handed out to the teams. From the instructions we could discern that the run would be first but we did not know how far. We also couldn’t determine if the bike was second or not so we would have to play it safe and have our bike lights ready.
The race started right at 5:00 am as the lead teams took off on a blistering pace in the darkness with no idea of the length of the run ahead. The teams were given a length of rope that had to be held by each member for the entire run. Team Sobe took the early lead followed by Balance Bar, Timex, Red Bull, Hi-Tec, and us (Ultima). The rope posed no problems on the road, but as soon as we hit the trails the fun began. If you didn’t run in single file, you ran the risk of running into trees, cactus, roots, rocks, and ruts. We worked out way into 3rd place staying on the heals of Team Timex as we let them light the way for us. The trails proved to be treacherous in the dark as most the teams took one or more falls (including us). It was when Timex fell that we made our move into second place and a second fall allowed us to pull away slightly. At this point Balance Bar had a 20 second lead on us, but we were closing in.
We arrived at the next special test on the heals of Balance Bar as we were required to crawl under a tightly strung cargo net without letting go of the rope we carried throughout the run. Once through the cargo net we dropped the rope and were given a circular bungee that one teammate had to pass through without touching and without the other two teammates using any parts of their hands or arms. Using our feet instead we mastered this test to perfection.
Once back at the transition we were given instructions for the 5.7-mile ride and tie special test. The ride and tie is where a team of 3 is only allowed to use two bikes forcing 1 teammate to run. About two miles into the ride and tie we were presented with bike problems. The freewheel on Dave’s bike broke and would slipping when any amount of force was applied. The result was that the bike had to be pushed up any hill. The black cloud we hoped had blown away was still lingering as we were just hoping to get through the race. We made it back to the transition after dropping 3 spots to Timex, Sobe, and Luke’s Locker.
The next special test was a diamond shape structure made of 2x6s. The team had to cross the diamond without touching the ground, touching each other at all times, and all three members could not cross on the same side of the diamond. Right away we made the decision to use opposing forces to cross the structure. It proved to be a difficult special test, but on our sixth try we managed to traverse the diamond without falling off. Next was a 2-mile kayak, but not before blowing up your kayak with a hand pump. This was a bright spot since by interpreting the instructions correctly we brought our own pump along. This gave us two pumps that allowed us to inflate both kayaks at the same time. We managed to pull slightly ahead of Balance Bar, but it was short lived as they we able to paddle past us in the water.
Coming off the kayak we still had to accomplish part two of the 5.7-mile bike leg with a broken freewheel. Luckily there was a fairly large gap behind us – but trying to catch the teams in front would prove too difficult. We maintained our position throughout the bike leg and the last two special tests. One of those was a set of 5 beams about 5 ft off the ground and you had to pass over and under alternating beams. The last special test was the 12-foot wall that was nice and clean after being greased up in Atlanta. We finished in 6th place with a time of 2:46:40.