Survival of The Fittest

 There was a all terrain multistage race that they held out in the Utah desert that summer and some friends and I from scouts decided to give it a go. I volunteered to do the climbing/rappelling and swimming because those where my strengths. The river run climb rappel was the first of about ten stations and I fell behind on the run but made it up on the climb and rappel putting us in second. After I passed the baton I had to be ferried to my next leg which was the mile/canoe and swim. My team was adding distance to our lead after biking, running, cable climbing and more running and more biking. We had almost ten minute lead when the guy before me and my canoeing partner handed off for the final leg where we had to canoe to the other side of the reservoir and swim back. The kid I was with was one of those farm tough psychopathic competitors who kept yelling at me to paddle harder. We had canoed a mile before the next team even got into the boats and we were looking good. We pulled up the canoe and I jumped in for a swim back and realized that even thought it was a 90 degree day that this water was bitterly cold and my arms and legs started to cramp. In that moment struggling to keep my head above water I was literally more afraid of letting down my team than dying, which was rapidly becoming a possibility. My paddling partner came up to offer some gentle words of encouragement, “why aren’t you swimming you pussy? Were going to lose if you don't hurry.” Sometimes it is a simple gestures like a friend taking the time to compare your courage, metaphorically, with female genitals to really drive home the fact that you should stop dying and finish the race. I laid on my back to float and I used everything I had to stretch my cramping legs and abs back into submission. The strained and settled and I gingerly started to swim keeping the range of motion just inside the tipping point to a re-strain. I was not swimming anywhere near my top speed but I was moving in the right direction when I saw the rival team canoe pass which meant they were now only five minutes behind. More sweet words of encouragement, “Swim faster or we will all kick your (A-word for bottom) if we lose.” I flipped over and started the much faster crawl and was about halfway when my partner told me the rival team was in the water and the kid was closing the distance. He told me that the other kid was swimming really fast. I knew that meant I was okay, no one can swim fast for a mile no matter who you are it is too far and you have to pace yourself. Well this kid didn't know that rule and as we neared the three quarters buoy he was only about three hundred feet back and closing still. I started to know how it must feel to be hunted by a Terminator, so relentless, it feels no pain. I poured on what little I had and switched to a back stroke to keep up the little speed I had left to give. About a block out from the finish I could hear my team screamign that I was loosing and I tried to find any hidden reserve of stamina or power but all my body would do is the same plodding pace towards the end. At a hundred feet to go he was only about a hundred feet back and still gaining. One final switch to a front crawl and I powered onto the beach, crawled up to the marker and passed the batton for the final run with the kid who was swimming against me only about thirty seconds behind. I had burned up a 10 minute lead but we were still ahead and running. The last run was just about a quarter mile and our guy made it first having re-added twenty seconds or so to the lead. I felt pretty good that I had made it and didn't quit or die but all the other guys could say was that it I would have lost it for them they would have killed me. Good time friends, doesn't matter, we still won