DR 2011 Race Report: Part 1 – Cape Fear

Battle Damage: I’m still nursing feet too swollen to fit in shoes. I have bruises everywhere, scabs and scars here and there, creaky knees, numb fingertips, permanent Vermont dirt embedded into my nail beds, a blackened and falling off toenail, muscles that feel strained to the point of snapping with the addition of any weight, sleep-deprived haziness in my brain and lips the texture of sandpaper. I also can not stop stuffing any food within arms reach down my throat. The poison ivy or oak is starting to pop up in little shiny, itchy bubbles. But, all in all, I’m feeling good.

We’re going to start this thing from the beginning.

*****Disclaimer: This is my account of events as best as I can remember. The nature of the race precludes the recount of things exactly as they happened without the omission of some details and the distortion of others. I only hope to convey the misery and the glory of my time in Pittsfield, Vermont, and to not misrepresent any other persons that may be named in this blog.*****

Thursday: I’m including the day before the race because the traveling to get there was so extreme itself.

Our plane was set to leave at 7:30am, so Dawn, Chris and I got to Laurel’s house for the airport carpool at 6am. We got loaded up and upon arriving at TLH, found out that our plane had been delayed until 9:30, messing up all our connecting flights (that left only 20 mins to change planes in Atlanta, a seemingly impossible feat!). After long negotiations with the Delta desk staff, we were able to get back-up tickets on a later flight out of Atlanta in case we missed our original connection but they couldn’t do anything for us if that made us miss our connection in Boston because from there we were flying Cape Air. I called Cape Air and they put us on another back-up flight leaving at 6pm if everything went awry. Our travel plans had us landing in Rutland around 4pm (still a 30 min drive from the hotel in Killington) and now we were looking at not getting in until 7pm.

As our plane finally started its descent into Atlanta, Dawn and I agreed that I should make a run for it. Chris and I were going to run to the next concourse and try and make the original connecting flight. Dawn and Laurel were going to stay behind and pick up my carry-on which had to be gate-checked in Tallahassee because there was not enough room in the overhead. (Here is where I should mention that I had one checked bag – 49lbs of gear and shoes, and one carry-on – full of clothes and socks.) They would try and meet up with us but get on the next flight should that fail. Chris and I SPRINTED through the Atlanta airport arriving before boarding had even begun. We going in touch with Dawn and told her they could still make it if they ran. We got them to the ticket counter but that’s when we found out that they had already changed flights to the later departure because the guy at the arrival gate had told them this plane was already boarded and getting ready to taxi. Liar. Dawn was able to grab a seat with me and Chris but Laurel’s seat was already given to standby. And that’s how Laurel got abandoned in Atlanta.

Once again, my carry-on had to be gate-checked but on this flight they put my bag’s final destination as Boston. I didn’t discover this until after the fact and this meant that we would have to go to baggage claim and wait for all the luggage under the plane to be unloaded before I could claim my clothes. We debated on the best course of action and settled, once again, on Chris and I sprinting to make the connecting flight while Dawn stayed behind to gather my luggage. Miraculously, we all made it through security and to the gate with enough time to order some food before boarding the plane. We had all had had little to eat or drink since leaving Laurel’s that morning.

Here’s where it gets good. We board a 9-seater Cessna and start to Rutland. Our pilot is very friendly and makes a couple of jokes. We get to know Bob, who his headed to Rutland to start his hike of the Long Trail up to Canada. He regales us with tales of his hiking and camping adventures. We talk with Mickey, a young girl (18, I think) who is traveling alone for the first time and coming back from school. She is also taking flying lessons and has a dad that’s a pilot. She lives close to Rutland and tells us a lot about the area. There is one more on the plane and we will call her Mrs. X. She was problems from the start. Dawn and Chris didn’t have time to eat at the gate so they asked if it was okay to take the food on the plane. The lady at the counter said yes and Chris apologized to everyone ahead of time. She made some snide comment at this time about having lived in an apartment and having to smell fried food 24-hours a day…blah blah blah. Later on the plane Dawn says something about not getting sick on the plane (I think we had hit some turbulence) and the lady says to no one at all, “smells can make people sick too.” Okay. There are lots of snippy little comments for the remainder of the trip but for time’s sake, I’ll put a {+} in any space where she reduced a happy group of people to complete silence with her crankiness.

Visibility is zero, there are clouds all around. I see the pilot take out his manuel, but think nothing of it. I’ve piloted small planes and I love and trust them. 40 mins into the flight he turns around and tells us that there is a problem with the landing gear and we are turning around and heading back to Boston where there are better facilities. I’m thinking, oh, he means maintenance to fix the problem once we land. He gave no indication that anything serious was wrong or that we should fear for our lives. {+} He then tells us he’s going to do some maneuvers to see if the landing gear is down or not. We do said maneuvers and he confirms that he thinks the landing gear is down, but may not be locked. As we get closer to Boston, he explains that he’s going to slow the plane down as much as he can, but that the nose may hit if the landing gear buckles and if one side buckles, we may tip over to one wing, and we’ll spin, but it will be okay. Fine, he says it will be okay, I’m not worried. He’s got this. As we get to Boston-Logan, we can see the runway ahead. The very big, well-lit runway. There are no other planes taking off or landing. Boston-Logan has been shut down and we have been given clearance to use the main runway. Okay. As we get even closer, we can see the lights of many emergency vehicles. There are over a dozen firetrucks and ambulances lining the runway as we land. Okay. We land without incident. Nothing buckled, nothing tipped, we’re all tired and back in Boston. Dawn is taking video of the landing and I ask, “I wonder if anyone has ever died trying to get to the Death Race.” There is a rather large staff waiting for us outside the plane with umbrellas. When we get inside, they lady at the counter asks us to all please sign one of these papers. {+} It was a free round-trip ticket, no restrictions for any Cape Air flight.

Dawn and Chris try frantically to find out where Laurel is. We pick up 2 more passengers (they were waiting for the 6pm flight) and we start to head to the van that is going to DRIVE us to Rutland. {+} We think we’re leaving Laurel behind for the 2nd time, but finally see her as we are leaving the gate area and she is in line to go through security. The crew is together again and Laurel is thankful that she got delayed in Atlanta and missed out on the Cape Fear flight.

We get on the van, which is a sleek, black limo-van and head out during rush-hour traffic. In Boston. {+}{+}{+}{+} The ride takes about 5 hours with a potty stop (mine) {+}{+}{+} and a food break {+} seeing as how we would be getting in so late. We’re all talking, laughing and joking…all except Mrs. X. Mickey tells us that at one point she looked at the pilot and saw tears in his eyes. That’s when she knew it was serious. I had no idea it was serious until she told us that the pilot was crying! If I had known then what she was just telling me, I would have been freak-ing-out. But we have all bonded through the experience and even the people who weren’t on the Cape Fear flight were part of the fun. Mrs. X. finally did start coming around, becoming a little friendlier, though not friendly by any means. We got to the airport which was closed for the night and where Dawn had arranged with the rental car lady to have our rental van open with the keys in the door. I think we arrived in Killington about 10:30/11pm. Ricky and Roger were already there. We talked for a while and then hit the hay.

Me and Laurel in the Limo-van. Laurel seems to be saying, "you landing gear did what?!"

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About Megan

I live and work with dogs in Tallahassee, Fl. My loves are in this order: 1. Dogs 2. Food 3. Coffee 4. Endurance Sports
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5 Responses to DR 2011 Race Report: Part 1 – Cape Fear

  1. Laurel says:

    Dawn and her stupid camera. I dread seeing the rest of the pics she took. Good details. Your brain is not as friend as I thought.

  2. Megan says:

    Hahaha, I loved that pic of you, L!! Don’t worry, I’ll only post non-funny face pictures from now on 🙂

  3. OK. I will never travel again without a concerted effort NOT to be described in someone’s blog as “Mrs. X” and have my comments reduced to { + }’s! LOL!!!

  4. Megan says:

    Hahaha, Heather! I think that’s a good lesson to take from this blog ;D

  5. dawn says:

    Ok, first of all, Laurel, ALL my photos are gorgeous & my camera is amazing.

    Second of all, Megan, why did you pick an “X?” She was Ms “B” & sometimes even Ms. “C.” Dang her.

    I love how adversity bonds a group together.
    great post, o’malley!

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