I woke early at Apache Lake (ok, not 4:00 am like the previous days) and headed over for breakfast. It was open water heaven: four of us at a table with no room for all the plates! Darren and Greg befriended the swimmers with “extra” (a word I never encountered in this sport before…) pancakes and French toast.
Lea, Barb and I headed out on the Apache Trail: dirt road through fantastic countryside. We arrived in the old mining town of Globe in time for an early Mexican lunch and early check in to a converted schoolhouse B&B. A relaxing day … for a change.
We arrived on time for the swim briefing and milling. Since we were expected to arrive back near midnight it was time to say a few goodbyes – a great group of swimmers, kayakers and other volunteers. Dave Barra had the eye of the tiger look and I gave him the eye of the aged back.
Another boat trip to the start – closer that the previous days but still looked long to me. All the previous swims were shorter than advertised and I wondered if we might make them up in Roosevelt Lake. I decided not to go with the zinc/sun cream and settled on the “Barra strategy”. I would not feed every 30 minutes, as in all previous marathon swims. Into the kayak bag went just two feeds for the swim, which I predicted to take 2 hours 30 minutes.
Kent had arranged for a slug of new local swimmers – you know the type: young, slim and rested. I forced myself to focus on Barra and ignored the new talent. I got a great start as we headed through a marshy area around and island. I can’t image anyone cut a closer line as I “cleared” a few old sunken trees/branches. Barra pulled up on my right – but faced longer swim around.
Darkness was settling and I started to just focus on the kayaker. Looking up didn’t give me anything but a few light flashes. Next stop was past a rock headland. In Cork, we specialise in rocks so I was determined to cut the closest line. Bam, left hand into the cliff: YES, a perfect line!
Two and a half thousand right arm strokes in, I called for the first feed: 500 ml of High5, and it was down in 8 seconds. Barra wasn’t winning this in my feed times!
I looked ahead and it looked a really long way off – perhaps 3 days of twisting canyons dulled my straight line distance gauge. In the pitch black I started to lose my mental strength and was hoping for a quick appearance of the bridge then dam. It was not happening. Arms burning and body sore from the previous hard 7 days – it was getting ugly. I could see a swimmer perhaps 25 m behind me and imagined it was Barra.
Finally and eventually he passed under the bridge and the lights of the finish were in sight. Then we hit what could only be described as a bit of “gritty” water: slime, leaves, branched and who knows what else. I could hear Kent yell “75 yards” and I soon hit the finish. It was head up and yelled over to the boat: “please, somebody tell me that Dave Barra isn’t there?”
I had lived in New York as a student and love the accent, but not tonight. Dave replied – the sound of his voice put me into temporary shock – I don’t remember the words. Up on the boat and a huge congratulations to him and the others in front and Joe from Colorado had pipped us both.
I don’t think it was close and I don’t think any strategy would have taken Barra that evening: he was Rocky Balboa that night. There WILL be a next time!
With the event over – it was my turn to hit the beer cooler. Some stayed to party – but I was off soon and in bed by 1:00 am. Well done Kent and all for a massive event. Four marathons in 4 days with the last a night swim … so cool.
- Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 1 (FermoyFish.com)
- Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 2 (FermoyFish.com)
- Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 3 (FermoyFish.com)
- Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 4 (FermoyFish.com)
- Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 5 (FermoyFish.com)
- Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 6 (FermoyFish.com)
- Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 7 (FermoyFish.com)