Stage 3 was a much longer stretch than Stages 1 and 2. I determined that I would have to move much faster in order to keep pace and complete the stage. My race pack remained extremely heavy, and I knew that the load would slow me down, so I ditched what I didn’t deem absolutely necessary and gave some of my gear to Ivan – a support crew medic – to return to the boat. Gone were my extra two pairs of socks and pair of underwear (this left me with only the socks and underwear I was wearing), gloves, camera; bag of protein powder; and even my bug spray (although it was quite light, it wasn’t essential for running). This trimmed 5 pounds off my pack.
Now I could move faster than before and developed a “jungle run/jog” as I tried to imagine myself moving smoothly like a jaguar. Although the terrain remained amazingly tough, the trail opened up in some parts and the course ceased to be the neverending, constant array of steep hills. Of course, many steep hills remained, but at times it “flattened.” However, these so-called “flat sections” were as steep as the toughest hill that Dallas had ever offered me for training.
To my dismay, near the end of the stage, the steep hills returned. A few were so downwardly steep (and I was so tired) that I sat and slid down them, although I risked sliding into or on top of any creature that lived on the jungle floor. In spite of all this, somehow I completed the stage shortly after dark, which gave me an idea of the time. My watch had broken earlier, during a torrential jungle rain, so I rarely knew the exact hour. It was difficult to gauge time visually, since the thick canopy blotted out the sun even at noon, immersing me in a green darkness. (I should have mentioned that this part of the Amazon is known as “the rain forest.”)
Now that I was at camp and began preparing for a night’s rest, I realized that not only had I lost my watch, but the waistband on my pack had rubbed my skin raw. I worried that this might keep me from carrying my pack and completing the race, but the medics taped my waist, and I was OK after that.