My time at the Warrior Dash, Part I

24 Apr

I arrive at the Texas Motor Speedway, where Warrior Dash participants park before being bused to the vast forest that contains the obstacle course. The lot is massive.

Once parked, I go through my backpack to make sure that I have everything I will need for the day. Inside my backpack there are two bananas, a towel.

“Ready to go,” I say. I wrap the bananas in the towel and do a little joke to myself where I pretend the wrapped bananas are a Tree Man penis and I yell and scream about God’s cruelty, then laugh a little bit, toss the bundle into my backpack and get out of the car. I smile and wave at a group of white people all wearing the same pink t-shirts all looking at my car and seeming very upset. They asked me what is wrong with me. I say I’m deficient in vitamin DASH then swing my leg wildly at the biggest member of the group. It’s my high-kick, so it goes just above the level of the man’s knee. He turns his body slightly and I miss by a mile.

“Wink” I say, then run off.

I run toward a line of empty buses awaiting boarders.

“Before you get on the bus,” a large woman in a Warrior Dash shirt marked VOLUNTEER on the back yells, “You need to get a wrist band from one of these two men.”

“Sir? Are you competing?” One of the men asks me.

“Hardly competing,” I say. “For that, I’d need competition.” I wink at a girl who is not looking at me.

“If you want to run, we gotta put one of these on you.” He holds up handful of lime green wrist bands. I put out my right hand and he puts a wrist band on me.

We get on the bus. I’m transported to The Hunger Games. I’m transported to Battle Royale. I’m transported to a half-dozen Holocaust films. I imagine we are all being shipped out to some work camp or some blood-soaked arena. I begin to look for allies in the seats around me. I see a young Asian man who seems to be around my age. He also appears to be alone. I think about us–together.

I nod to him and he looks at me blankly and leans to talk to the guys in the seat in front of him. Ah. I see. He’s not alone at all. He has friends. I’m thrown into a maelstrom of sadness. I feel so lonely. I miss him already. I think about the times we spent together.

“And like, I don’t fuckin’ care, girl. Get your pants and get out!” He says, then he and his friends in front of him cackle and look at their smartphones. I think about how much of an ass hole he is and how glad I am that all my memories of him are just memories of Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash.

The bus’s brakes scream and as we stop I can hear the its tires rumbling across gravel.

“Work camp,” I say. I hope I get a cool job in the work camp. I hope I can be the work camp’s graphic designer.

We get off the bus. My foot hits the ground and I am in a dystopian nightmare. I see no grass, only white dust and gravel under my feet. In the distance I see a macabre carnival, and beyond that, the high treeline like the battlement of a city wall. There is a far-off, rhythmic thrum, as if we are in the belly of some terrible beast, overhearing his beating heart. People are walking around covered in mud, hunched from fatigue and the weight of their soaking clothes. I remember that I need to put on sunscreen.

I step out of the thickest of the foot traffic, to a small shaded area by one of the barricades meant to keep visitors from wandering from the main area of the competition. I oil my body. My shoulders, my breasts. My tummy and my neck. In between my fingers. The top of my butt crack. The between of my fingers again. My ear lobes. Eye lashes and the underside of my left nostril. My thighs. The tops of my feet. All of my toenails.

I walk back out into the sun like I invented the sonofabitch.

There are signs directing me to a large plaza that resembles an old-world marketplace. I approach the area where patrons are given their shirts and tracker chips and–

“Tracker chips?” I ask the man handing out the packets.

“Yes, to track your time.”

“And what else?!” I smack the table. He jumps.

“And how fast you run.”

“Track this,” I say, then shake the chip really fast. “Hope that didn’t throw off your calibrations.”

“It didn’t,” he says. The guy before me pushes forward and tells the man his name. I walk away to check my backpack in.

The tent to check your bag in resembles the tent where I got my packet and tracker chip. The man working there is a portly Hispanic gentleman who is very sweaty, but seems in high spirits. We exchange pleasantries and I drop my backpack off there.

I wander about the complex, wondering what lay ahead. Survival is victory. Victory is survival.

To be continued.

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