And yet, there are 13 more obstacles to go. Next up was a set of monkey bars. Fall off, and you were required to do 30 "burpees". Monkey bars may not seem so bad, but when your hands are covered in mud and you are sweating profusely? Burpees were my fate. Then onto obstacle number seven: filling an industrial-sized bucket to the brim with gravel and carrying it up a hill, roughly 100 feet. As if your muscles weren't burning enough.
Then off to another short run, hopping over five fences along the way. Balance beams were next, with a penalty of another 30 burpees for anyone who lacks balance - including myself. At this point, complete exhaustion has taken over and I am contemplating quitting. Urged on by a fellow competitor, I soldier on through another set of log obstacles, this time walking between them rather than running. I have to stop several times for fear of ... well, whatever happens when you're so tired that your body just quits on you. That or just plain-old regurgitation.
Finally, a participant reaches some potentially surmountable obstacles - firing a paintball at a target (but 30 burpees for a miss - and I missed), lifting a cinder block 15 feet in the air via a pulley system, and another army-style crawl through a chute while sadists fire paintballs at you. At this point, my body was all but shutting down on me. It was 90 degrees, I was dehydrated, my muscles ached and "exhausted" would have been the understatement of the century.
But you have to continue. You can't be that .1 percent that doesn't finish, right? A short run, then over a 20-foot high cargo net. Round the corner, and you see the finish line with four obstacles to go. The first, a javelin throw, with the punishment being 30 burpees. (Thankfully, my javelin stuck in the hay bail, but I was of the 20 percent or so who succeeded at this task, according to the guides).
Then came the six-foot, eight-foot and ten-foot high walls to jump over. Six feet wasn't impossible. Eight feet plus extreme fatigue proved too much for my frame. The ten-foot wall wasn't even approached. My penance? 30 more burpees. Then finally, participants (masochists?) had to climb a 15-foot high pyramid with the assistance of a rope ... except that the entire structure (and the ropes) were soaked in laundry detergent to make them unfathomably slippery. Five tries and five hard falls later, it was more burpees for me.
And just for fun, before finishing the race, you had to run through two "gladiators" wielding pugile sticks trying to stop you from reaching the finish line.
Final time: 54 minutes. And collapsing after crossing the finish.
As I said to the guides along the way, this was the single most difficult thing I have ever participated in. I would rather run a marathon than do that again. And I demanded to know what kind of sicko would dream this up. But 15 minutes after completion (and attempting to replenish both fluids and lost dignity), I knew I had completed something. No style points. No gracefulness. Certainly no speed. But it was over.