There was a rock band, a DJ, a crowd, an announcer with a microphone, nerves, excitement, fear….and then we're off. The minute the crowd is out of sight we encounter the first obstacle- the mountain. There is disbelief, there is awe, and then there is reality. The mountain is not going away. It will be with us the whole way through. The music warbles in the distance as we work our way farther up. Leg muscles burn, breathing in gasps, my mind revolts…
The obstacles, scattered all over the mountain, were made of hefty timbers dug into the ground, timber locked, bolted, and braced. They used thick boat worthy rope, high quality wire, heavy metal bars…it was solid construction. The SEALs that stood ready at every obstacle were clear spoken and encouraging. Each obstacle challenged me in a different way. One of the most difficult ones involved swinging from handles hanging on rope at different heights. I had to sustain my body weight with one arm and gain momentum enough to reach the next one at a different height. It didn't help that some of the handles had slipped into a vertical position. I barely made it across, throwing myself toward the finish and landing with a roll to disperse the fall. Another obstacle involved balancing on a wet log to make it to a cargo net suspended over a pond. A gigantic fan sprayed mist at us while we had to traverse the cargo net and then either drop into the pond and swim across or climb across on a guy wire. I decided to try the guy wire. In hindsight it would probably have been most effective to throw my feet up on the wire in front of me in order to disperse my weight. Instead I was hanging from my hands with my full body weight below.
There were monkey bars 2' apart that scaled up and then down rafters.
There was a deceivingly tall hurdle covered in tires. If you hit it too low the tires would roll you back from whence you came.
Rope was for swinging, climbing, traversing…
At a certain point I realized that I was alone. I was leading the pack by a good distance. It wasn't until about the last quarter of the race that I sprang a wicked leg cramp that had my toes curling. It brought me to my butt literally. I sat on the gravel and worked my leg until it went away (using an impromptu version of Structural Therapy…a type of bodywork/ massage/ physical therapy that is my path and career. It worked; I was up and moving again. That leg cramp was a blessing in disguise. It slowed me down and soon I came across several other people cramping. I performed several brief treatments. The treatments were muddy impromptu sessions but they seemed to work. I was now seeing the race in an entirely different way. It wasn't about getting a good time. It was about finishing and helping people along the way. At a particular obstacle that required us to jump from stump to stump there was a spot that was slightly out of range for a group of bone froggers. I stood at a strategic stump to lend a helping hand.
My wife and kids were waiting for me at the last obstacle…the fire. Leaping over fire I put on a show of flying followed by somersault down the hill. A few more strides and I was through the finish line. There were kind old men, retired SEALs, there to knight me with a metal and a handshake.
Now that I've met the challenge the sky is limit.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the folks that made it possible...
Her champagne laughter can bubble into the deepest depression infecting it with humor. She'll lay down the law and break the law all in the same day. She's a rock. She's a storm. She's the calm. She's my love.
Without her support I wouldn't have been able to do this. She has my back and to that I am grateful.
My kids have challenged me in ways I couldn't have invented. They love me and teach me beyond my previous capabilities.
The Navy SEALs:
As a boy I looked up to the SEALs as the baddest of them all. We would tell stories of the SEALs in the flicker of the campfire. They were legend.
I may not glorify war the way I did as a boy but the SEALs definitely lived up to legend and then some. They not only designed an awesome obstacle course but they were well organized and gentlemen about it the whole time.
Billy the dog:
My dog Billy ran along side of me for most of my training never complaining and always ready to fetch sticks, chase deer, or race me in a sprint.
In the end I got soaked, muddy, bloody, and brought to my own limitations. There were ropes, monkey bars, cargo nets, barbed wire, tires, walls… It was an adult jungle gym. It was a labyrinth of coordination, perseverance, fitness, guts, strategy, and pace.