The start/finish area was at a campground near the lake. The mandatory team meeting started at 8:30pm the night before the race. During this meeting, the race director cheerfully announced that the race would begin at 3:30am, and better yet - the maps were still being copied and would not be available until 10:30pm, a mere five hours before the start. Fortunately, I was not the designated navigator so the map was meaningless which allowed me to leave the meeting early and try to get some extra sleep. Ignorance truly is bliss. However, I soon realized the other teams' strategy: Bring numerous small, loud children to the campground, get them all hopped up on sugary caffeinated snacks, then let them roam free and create havoc as other teams tried to map check points or rest up before the start.
When we got back to camp, we had about 45 minutes left before we had to finish. Just enough time to eat something and regain some leg strength before attempting the slack lines. As I munched on what seemed like the 256th energy bar I had eaten that day, I desperately wished Clif bar came in "Corona w/Lime" flavor. Then I got up and began to put my climbing harness on. As the belt lightly slid up my backside, an excruciating pain radiated from a place deep within me where the sun doesn't shine. I wondered how many female adventure racers still possessed the ability to bear children and I seriously considered replacing my bike saddle with a 1961 Chevy Impala bucket seat.
For those who don't know, traversing across a slack line is like the opposite of tightrope walking. The line you have to walk upon is not tight, it is "slack" - hence the name. For support, you can hold onto a rope above your head, but this rope is also slack so it isn't very helpful because it jiggles back and forth. A LOT. After more than 16 miles on foot going up and down steep hills and ravines, and bushwhacking through sharp prickly shrubs, then another 20 miles or so of hot mountain biking on fire roads with no shade, sprinkled with a little rock wall climbing and a touch of zip line - just to ensure your nerves are completely and utterly frayed - apparently the race director and my team mates thought it might be yet even more "adventurous" for Corey and myself to attempt this slack line section, you know, to get the full experience (translation: to cause an absurd amount of damage to each and every fiber of muscle in your body). Whatever miniscule bit of strength I may have had left in my legs was quickly extinguished as I watched the participant before me convert his slack line into a slingshot and fling himself face first into the ground about three feet below. By now I was out of clean sports bras and could not think of any other believable excuse that could create enough delay to skip this event so I climbed on and tried to get it over quickly with minimal wobbling. Naturally, it lasted for an eternity and my stomach felt like a blender full of Clif Bar/Gatorade martini - shaken, not stirred. But I managed to avoid the face plant and still had enough fumes left in me to grab my team mates' hands and jog across the finish line.
Click HERE for Lorenzo's photo gallery of the event.
If you are a data geek - here is the first 8.5 hours from my GPS watch (the batteries ran out before we finished!)