After a full night’s rest, Stage 2 began very early in the morning. The distance was much longer, but I kept my hiking pace because the terrain was too rough for running.
The hills remained very steep, and by the time I reached the final checkpoint, I was told that another racer -Derek from Hong Kong – and I were not allowed to continue to the finish line for the day. Why not? Because many racers had encountered several jaguars! A couple of Brazilians had crossed the finish line knives in hand, prepared in case of an attack. A racer just in front of me had heard a jaguar in the bushes just feet away, and then saw the jaguar as it gave a loud warning purr.
When a jaguar strikes
Normally, jaguars leave an area that has many people as they are quite elusive and extremely rare to see in the jungle. But these jaguars remained in the territory and were undeterred by our presence. Instead, it seemed that they might have been tracking and stalking us! If Derek and I had gone on, we would have been trekking through this section at dusk and perhaps dark, which would have greatly increased my chances of using my favorite stick in an attempt to fend off an attacking jaguar. It should be noted that humans cannot outrun jaguars, neither can we out-climb them. Our only option for survival is to be loud and raise our bag over our head to appear larger and possibly intimidate the jaguar. But if attacked, the only chance for survival is to protect one’s neck and throat and fight back by attacking vulnerable points such as the jaguar’s eyes.
There is a downside to this last strategy. Even if a racer were to successfully fight off a jaguar, which would be insanely difficult, the racer would nevertheless have been ripped to shreds by the jaguar’s powerful teeth and claws.
Therefore, the race organizers took Derek and me on an alternate route out of the jungle by taking us on a small boat to hike through a less hazardous part of the jungle … where ironically we encountered a venomous snake. We arrived at the base camp late in the evening. By the end of Day 2, my body was completely exhausted. For the remaining five days, I would need to rely solely on willpower and determination to complete the adventure I had began.