Up bright and early Tyler and I plus a group of Survival run volunteers packed into a pick up truck to go check out the course.
This is Josue Stephens the race director.
Josue is one of the nicest sadomasochists you will ever meet. He wants you too suffer but he also can't wait to give you a high five when you succeed.
Before heading out to Nicaragua I had heard somthing about a Survival run being added to the event this year as one of the options beside the usual 25km, 50,km or 100km divisions
I watch Survivor maybe I should give it try? (I'm exactly the kind of idiot who shouldn't do a survival run) What the hell is a Survival run anyway
Here is a course description from the race website:
THIS IS HARD AND DANGEROUS!
There are no handicaps given other than the ones you may develop during the race
Learn to climb a tree, ropes are for gyms
Learn proper race hydration and nutrition, run an ultra BEFORE coming to this race
Complaints will be used against you. This is NOT your average hometown race with perceived dangers, this is REAL!
Fear is your worst enemy on this course, leave it at home
Don't bring your mom and dad, this race is for big kids!
Survival Runners do NOT get Drop Bags
Being prepared for anything is the only thing that will get you through this.
Basically it sounded like Spartan race minus all the Mickey Mouse theatrics that the one's in the states have where a runner can fake his way front with out having any muscles as I did last year.
Josue said that he wouldn't make any of the competitors do somthing he couldn't do. One of the obstacles involved climbing 25' up a tree. "Hey look there's Josue 25' a tree."
Other obstacles include:
Running with a live chicken
carrying 50 pounds of fire wood for 5 miles
chopping down a tree with a machete
swimming to an island while protecting an egg taped to your forehead
carrying a 20 foot piece of bamboo up a volcano and then using it to climb a tree.
Plus at least 70km of running and alot more swimming
We drove to the base of the Maderas Volcano on the other side of the island. The trail was really nice but you could tell it was gonna start getting brutal the higher you climbed. The top of the volcano is perceptually in the clouds creating own unique habitat on the Island. But getting to the top was an all day climb which would have to wait till race day
Survival runners are of a different breed than I am.
(I just use a backpack to carry my extra crap)
(I just use a backpack to carry my extra crap)
Josue offered to let both me and Tyler switch from the 100km to the survival run?
I could probably do it if my life depended on it
(I was sure glad it didn't)
Without being mentally of physically prepared it would have a foolish idea. However it seemed like it was right Tyler's alley?
Did somebody say Lunch ?
Did somebody say Beer?
We stopped at some pretty awesome restaurant that I think was a sponsor of the race
Moonshine on the house? YES PLEASE!
Quote the owner
"Anyone craziest enough to run 100km out here, drinks for free."
The backside of the Island was my kind of place. Organics farms were everywhere and the streets were lined full of cute hippie girls from all over the world.
Just stay away from crazy french cult hiding out on the island
( that can't be true can it?)
No crazy cults for me. I stay true to only the most sacred of scriptures.
Besides do I look like a cult member?
the freshest cashews you can get.
after lunch we continued to explore the island
Check out those thorns and living inside each thorn are pissed off ants. As soon as the thorn cuts into your flesh you will then be attacked
Who new pineapples were so beautiful?
The banana trees were pretty cool too.
It was great day spent with some with some cool people.
That night Tyler and I found ourselfs struggling to find cheap Vegan Grub. All we needed really was "Gallo pinto" (red beans and rice) but it was Sunday night and most of town had closed up shop.
"Hola Nina , Donde Esta La Bibliotecca"
For some reason she couldn't understand I was asking where I could find a cheap meal.
Just when were about to give up our search We stumbled into "Indio Veijo" the joint looked like it was painted by Paul Gauguin if he had grew up in the 1960's drug culture
We struck up a conversation with the cook "Osagi"(french Canadian) He told us that him and his sister (she looked way too old to be his sister, odd?) had been running the place for years and tonight's special was?
Is this for real? (there's got to be a catch)
Tyler and I couldn't have been happier. Osagi told us that he would be cooking up Vegan Cuisine all week long, specializing in traditional ingredients such as the super food "chaya" AKA Tree Spinach
The beer was cheap, the food was good
After another night of listening to babies being made Tyler and I decided to try and find another place to stay.
We found all kinds of really cool rooms for around $20 a night but they were all booked for the race
We already had a place to stay so it really wasn't a priority of ours.
What was our priority?
Climbing an active Volcano and seeing Monkeys!
But first it was time to have a beer on the beach we had a long trek ahead of us and it was important to be properly hydrated
"The Magic of Ometepe"
While at the beach I noticed a playing card sitting face down washed up on the shore? (Okay whatever) I went on to tell Tyler a story of how when I was younger (Younger? I was younger yesterday!) I had a lucky card. The 4 of clubs (think four leaf clover) well I use to steal them out of decks whenever I came across an unguarded one, even from the occasional casino (I'd look pretty tough in jail telling that story) Nobody really misses a "4" an ACE maybe but not a 4. Eventually I had a full deck of fours and have probably come across between 1 and 2 hundred of them over the years. Not really a compulsion just a hobby that I have since given up?
I have also won money blindly picking 4 of clubs out of deck (not my deck, lol) on the same night I guessed someones birthday. (but that's whole other story)
"Hey Tyler, you wanna take a guess what card that is?" I think he guessed like 9 of diamonds or somthing like that?
By now you know what my guess was!
I walked over picked up the card and showed it to him before I took a look.
His face instantly lit up with astonishment I knew what card it was.
(it felt like we were in an episode of lost)
Pretty freaking cool.
I decided to keep the card a souvenir and I am looking at it with a dumbfounded smile on my face as I type.
Disclaimer: If you are an old friend feel free to go check your playing cards to see if you 52? If your missing the 4 of clubs sorry for that I will gladly replace it with any card of your liking?
After hiking for a few miles out of town out of town we found ourselves at the base of Vulcan Concepcion.
How did we find our way?
Pretty simple, just go the opposite direction that the evacuation signs point.
The trail started out pretty easy
So long as you didn't step on any venomous snakes? But who would want to step on cute little bugger like this here Coral Snake
(good thing I have my Luna Sandals to protect me)
We even found some course markings for the race along the way.
The higher we climbed
The more interesting things got
Pretty freaking cool if you ask me
This race is gonna be brutal.
Brutally fun that is
The whole time we climbed we could hear the roar of Howler Monkeys in the trees but we couldn't find any.? We did find some leaf cutter ant's and I thought that was pretty cool (not as cool as monkeys though)
Before leaving on the trip Tyler said he caught the latest episode of "Duel Survival" (that show where the barefoot hippie and the marine pretend they are lost so that they can save each other using conflicting methods) It was filmed on Ometepe and they used the bite of a leaf cutter ant to a suture a wound.
We decided to give it a try. Well not we,
(I may be stupid but not that stupid.)
It didn't work but it did make Tyler scream and me smile. :)
Eventually we arose out of tree line to a spectacular view.
But we still had some climbing to do.
We were almost to the cloud line, It was getting late and we really didn't want to hike down in the dark?
What should we do?
We had no choice but to keep going,
because everybody knows monkey's always hang out at the top of volcanoes Right? (perhaps I'm getting monkeys confused with pterodactyls)
"Hey Tyler quit posing we having monkeys to discover"
"O Monkey, O monkey, Where art thou Primate"
Sure enough at the top of the Volcano we found our first wild monkey
(it looked a lot cooler in person)
"Mission Accomplished dude Now lets down this Volcano before wind blows us off of it."
Hiking up was cool but running down was 10 times more fun. Racing wise I should beat Tyler in most competitions but the dude lives in the mountains of Colorado and immediately left me in the dust as he flowed like water while I moved more like magma.
On the way down we saw no less than 10 more monkeys. It turns out I have the same effect on monkeys that I do on beautiful women?
They run away as soon as I get near
We made it to the bottom of the volcano just before sunset.
As we entered Moyogalpa what song did I hear playing from some locals house?
Holy Guacamole what a day.
That night we went back to "Indio Veijo" for dinner Osagi was cooking "Indio Veijo" (con Chaya including 17 different local herbs and veggies)) the meal his establishment was named after
it turns out they had a vacant room in their Hostel for $15 a night. It looks like Tyler and I would be moving in the following morning.
What could possibly go wrong