How Not to Run an Obstacle Course

Last night several hundred people gathered for a party in Berlin, hosted by SonRise Church and the Ocean City Worship Center.  It was cool!  Lots of zesty chili and other good food, games, rides, and old friends.  Good times.

There was an inflatable obstacle course.  The woman who heads up the audio/visual stuff at SonRise, Jenna, challenged me to race her in the obstacle course.  Now Jenna is a full decade younger than me, but what could I do?  Wimp out?  So I took her on.  But it was kind of embarrassing standing in line for 10 minutes, towering above the little children who were in line.

The very first thing in the obstacle course is the entrance itself, which is a waist-high hole that you have to jump through to get into the course.  No sooner had I cleared this first obstacle than I immediately realized I had five serious problems:

(1) First problem: I had donated blood a couple hours earlier.  They always tell you not to do anything physically active for 24 hours afterward, but I didn’t believe them… until that first obstacle.  As soon as I landed and realized that I needed to pick myself up, I discovered I had no energy.  None.  And this adventure had only just begun.

(2) Second problem: The blood bank also tells you to eat a lot.  So that’s exactly what I did.  Five bowls of chili and a hot dog, to be exact.  And that stuff was shaking all around in my guts.

(3) Third problem: An innumerable crowd of men from SonRise decided at that moment to live out their childhood WWF wrestling fantasies, and I found myself on the bottom of a pile of several hundred pounds of human flesh and bone.

(4) Fourth problem: Jenna is very resourceful, so she arranged to have the church video camera hoisted atop the ladder of a firetruck, which bathed the scene in bright light and recorded the entire spectacle.  Jenna has access to YouTube, and she knows how to use it.  She also prepares the video that will be shown to nearly 300 people at SonRise this Sunday.

(5) Fifth problem: I’m old.  I’m fat.  I’m out of shape.  What was I thinking?

As an awareness of all these problems simultaneously crashed into my mind, I did the only thing I could: I prayed.  Hard.

It worked.

I could hear Daryl yelling at the guys to get off of me, and they eventually did.  Fortunately, the second obstacle was not to climb over anything, but to climb under it.  I was able to manage a crawl.  Then they pounced on me again.  Daryl called off the dogs again, and eventually they let me go.  The next part required crawling through a tunnel.  I was most of the way through when they grabbed my jeans around my ankles.  My jeans stayed in place as the rest of me continued falling out the end of the tunnel.  Just when I had resigned myself to the idea that I was about to become the latest YouTube underwear model, Daryl again made them let me go.

Then I bounced around some inflatable… things… and came to the eight-foot inflatable wall with a rope.  I climbed up.  They pulled me down.  I climbed up.  They pulled me down.  I climbed up.  They pulled me down.

Jenna climbed up (well, they pushed her up–are you beginning to sense a bias?), and I pulled her down.  Hey, I had to try to even the field somehow.

As I started trying to climb the rope again, someone grabbed me around the middle and squeezed.  Picture what happens to the air in a balloon when you squeeze it in the middle.  That’s what was happening to the chili inside me.  Just as I was about to share my chili with my attacker, I managed to break his hold.

I climbed up the rope and they grabbed me again, but I knew I didn’t have the strength to climb up again so I held on for dear life.  They shook the rope as I clung tenaciously.  I was being wagged around like a happy dog’s tail, and the chili inside me was shaking like a can of soda in the hands of a mischievous middle school boy.

Once more Daryl called them off, but then I discovered another problem: There was no way to get over the top of the wall.  The rope stopped at the top of the wall, and there was nothing to grab onto.  I grabbed everything I could find and squeezed it as hard as I could, but couldn’t get a grip.  Finally, when I thought I was going to pass out, I found the seam where two pieces had been sewn together, leaving a small flap, and held on to that to hoist myself over.

Later on I felt guilty as I realized that this was the point at which I should have turned around and helped Jenna to clear the wall.  Oops.  It’s always easier to be thoughtful later, upon reflection.

Collapsing, I went down the slide headfirst, crawled to the exit hole, and fell onto the ground just ahead of Jenna.  The next hour was spent trying not to throw up or pass out.

Later on I called Jenna to see how she was recuperating, and it had worn her out too.  At that point I didn’t feel quite as much like a sickly, out of shape, old man.

In spite of how that might sound, it was actually a lot of fun.  During the three years I was at SonRise I developed friendships with a lot of people (and they’re used to seeing me humiliate myself), and I have a number of friends at the Worship Center, too, so it was great to see all of them.  And the chili was delicious even though it turned against me on the obstacle course.

Plus, now I have a whole year to think of a creative excuse in case Jenna challenges me to a rematch next year.

Published in: on November 1, 2007 at 10:54 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. hahahahha….Nathan, I have to say that I am completely embarrased that I had a whole gang of people who were on my side…and I still lost.
    Well Done Slighty older man!
    This is one for the books…and next year….it’s ON

  2. Yeah, it’s on for you and some other competitor! I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race….

  3. Wow, I am SO cracking up. IF you do that again next year I am THERE!! I would have had your back though.. that’s twice you almost lost your pants (softball ring a bell???)

  4. Oh yeah. I think I should start wearing suspenders.

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