Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fusion 2009

The other day Aaron ran into my classroom with a full page ad from the newspaper that said: Fusion 2009: Adventure Race. Teams of four. We googled it and we asked around for more information; nobody knew anything about it. But we found 6 other folks like us who needed no more information before signing up to participate. We divided ourselves into two groups (Team Fast and Team Fun) and for the next 10 days, trained like mad.
At 4:30 AM last Saturday morning, we got to the race start—the 14 mile-marker on a rural road on Trinidad’s North Coast. Other teams were already milling around; some were in all-black ensembles, others were in pink capris, white tanks, and white visors. They looked sharp. We looked like we were in our PJs. Charles, the organizer, welcomed us and told us to determine which two members to send on the “speed and power” route and which two to send on a “speed and brains” route. Our team of four looked at each other and decided our boys (Mark and Aaron) were pretty powerful and our girls (Karen and I) had scored well on the SATs. Two minutes later, as the horn blew, we sprinted off in opposite directions. Apparently I was too excited to breathe and run at once, so I slipped and scraped up my leg. I was also too excited to feel it, though. After running downhill for about 20 more minutes, an official stopped us and handed us a logic puzzle to complete before continuing. We had a slow start—we were about the 20th pair in—but we were the 3rd team to leave. Then the officials pointed us into the jungle and we scrambled in, grabbing trees as we heaved ourselves down the steep decline and tried to avoid the ones with 3 inch spikes. We saw Team Fast running back up the hill toward us in life jackets. They yelled as they passed: “Swam through a river!” When we got there, ready, the officials pointed us straight back up the hill to finish our leg. Mark and Aaron were already at the top by the time we got there; we refueled and were told to head to Las Cuevas, a beach nearby.
The second event was a climb. Charles introduced it by saying there were a few burning hills, over the Northern Range, that we might not like. He also told us that the cars had to be moved, so only three of our four team mates could run this event. Again, we looked at each other to try to figure out our best option. Everyone said they felt strong and so I opted to drive because my leg from my early crash was starting to throb. (Next year we’ll get someone to drive so we can all participate.) The teams took off and the next time I saw them, we were at the second highest point in Trinidad: El Tecuche. The first team to finish beat me (in the car!). The second and third teams breezed in as if they had walked around the block. The fourth team was our Team Fast. The climb had taken about 2 hours, but they looked strong and energized. After a few more minutes, Team Fun raced in and they, too, looked amped (well, except that Aaron’s leg cramped up, and a large male paramedic healed him by rubbing his upper, inner thigh).
We drove down to the city for the final leg—a four mile run. The horn was blown and we raced past cars blasting soca music and officials stopping the crowded lines of traffic for us. Right before the finish line, at the entrance to the port, Aaron slowed down so that we could all run across it together. Karen and I, though, could only focus on the ribbon ahead and we sprinted past him. (Not our best moment.) Immediately, medals were put around our necks, water was poured over our heads, and friends threw us into sweaty bear hugs. At the awards ceremony that followed, we slurped corn soup and found out that out of 42 teams, Team Fast got 4th (but the first co-ed team) and we got 13th (fourth co-ed team). The first three teams got those huge checks from the game shows. The 4th team got a HiLo Hamper—a basket full of grocery staples like Uncle Ben’s rice and aluminum foil. Well, of course! I love Trinidad.