The next task is to run—with textbook, posthole digger, onions, knife, remaining pennies, and six heavy chunks of firewood—up and over another mountain to someplace called the Onion House. By this point it's almost 4 P.M. on Saturday, and the few of us still going have been at it for 19 hours.
I can no longer run. No act of willpower could put the pain in my knees out of my mind. I hike as fast as I can, following fluttering bits of pink survey tape straight up a trailless mountain thick with poison ivy.
At the top of the 1,000-foot climb, there's no Onion House. Instead, the survey tape turns and drops straight back down. Going up was manageable for my knees, but going down is excruciating. I should've paced myself, recognizing that, since this is a long race, an extra half-hour walking the downhills wouldn't have made much difference... When I finally reach the Onion House, the assigned task is to wheelbarrow firewood back and forth for ten laps, then chop up nine pounds of onions and eat a pound. If you still have enough money, you can buy yourself out of this torture, but then you might not have enough to avoid whatever comes next.
And that's just half a page of a 7 page article. If you're thinking about skipping your workout today, there's no quicker way to feel like a wimp than reading this.