Blog (Wednesday, 8:39 p.m.): Surprising that only four teams have dropped out
June 28, 2006
MOAB, Utah ” It continues to amaze me how few teams have dropped out of the race thus far. As of Wednesday evening, only four had withdrawn, and five more were continuing under the “unranked” category, which often means one team member opted out but the rest continued.
At the prerace press briefing last Saturday, race officials said they expect only 30 percent of the teams to finish this thing. That means we’d have to see nearly 50 more teams give up hope. There’s still plenty of racing to come for some of the lower-ranked teams ” many of whom were a day or more behind the leaders ” but you have to think that more than originally expected will finish the race.
It’s not just the racers who are going on little sleep these days. Media, medical personnel, volunteers and staff members all must fight through the shuteye urge in order to do what they’re here to do. Three or four hours has become the norm. As one guy put it this afternoon, “I’m having fun, as long as I’m still standing.”
Bad luck continues to follow GoLite/Timberland, which stood in third place as of Wednesday night. This team was expected by many to contend for the win, but things went bad right from the start. GoLite drew a weak horse, and within an hour of the race’s beginning the horse was bleading from its nose and its eyes were watering. It was going so slow, one race official told me, that GoLite walked all the way back to the start and traded it in for a replacement.
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On Wednesday, the rear tire fell off one of GoLite’s bikes while it was being lowered 600 feet to the ground at Checkpoint 25, the Gemini Bridges rappelling station. The wheel got snagged in the rope, and when those lowering it pulled on the rope the wheel fell 200 feet to the ground and bent like a taco. The sound it made when it landed filled the entire canyon.
The things that people consume in this race range the gamut. For instance, the day before the race I watched one elite team heap globs of mayonnaise on one side of their bagels, then squirt a quarter-tube of grape jelly on the other, and smush them together. All about the calories, I suppose.
What I saw on Monday, however, kind of surprised me. Arriving after a 36-mile flat-water kayak section, Antonio de la Rosa of Team Altius-Abarth, a combined squad of Mexicans and Spaniards, whipped out a Coors Original and started gulping.
I sidled up next to him and asked him how many he’d brought with him. “Diez!” he chirped. I asked him if they were only for him. “Si! Estos maricas!” he said, pointing at his teammates whom he was affectionately calling, well, “weak,” we’ll say.
His actions were all the more entertaining given his getup: Playstation 2 pants with a Livestrong bracelet and a ponytail. His teammate, by the way, was chugging Coke out of a two-liter bottle.
In this edition of “How hot is it?” the answer is: Hot enough that we actually considered buying eggs just to be able to see how fast they’d cook on concrete. I’ve never tried that, but always wanted to. As it was, we were in too much of a hurry.