When Marcus mentioned the Skydive Ultra, I was on the fence. You skydive then RUN. They have distances from 10k all the way up to 100 miles. The loop that you run is actually 7.3 miles and is mostly trail with a little bit of road to and from the trail. WTF.
In the weeks before this race I had gotten word that a couple of friends lost their husbands to cancer, one friend of a friend had suddenly passed out and never regained consciousness then passed...all in their 40's. The thought we only get only get to do this once kept ringing in my mind. So, it was a big YES.
On the drive up, Marcus pulled us over on the side of the road to a very sketchy fence to see Deep Lake. It was a bit after 5pm and he said we have about a mile walk and I would want to change out of my white shoes because it would be muddy... ummm... I wasn't sure if I was going to be murdered or eaten by a gator. All I could see was us walking back in the dark and the Swampman coming out of the bushes with a machete. I was very hesitant to go, and he insisted - Marcus, not the Swampman, although it could be one and the same. Again - I had the urge to call my mom and say goodbye before I was possibly cut into tiny pieces, but I threw on my shoes and headed out.
**Traveler's tip - if you stop here, don't let the creepy gate scare you or convince you it is closed...it's not. You have to go into the door on the left. Again, creepy - yes, but call your mom and go do it.
We weaved in and out of tall grass, whippoorwills and foliage covered in those little burrs that love to stick to you. Marcus calls them hitchhikers. We climbed around puddles and yes, our shoes got very muddy. Finally we arrived at the lake.
Deep Lake is a pretty fascinating little lake... It is a 90 foot deep sinkhole with the top half being freshwater and the bottom half being saltwater. It is the deepest lake south of Lake Okeechobee and it's rich with Seminole history. I won't get into the whole story, but I found a great article with all the info you could want to know about it. Check it out here - Deep Lake.
The hike was well worth the stop. Just being surrounded by nature, breathing in all of the greenery, and I didn't get murdered. We headed back to the car to finish our trek to Clewiston.
Clewiston is definitely small town America. It does have a Walmart, so there's that, but not the array of choices to eat and we were there after 8pm so some things had already closed. We grabbed Sonny's BBQ and headed to bed. We were up at 5:30 to be at the start line around 6:15 to get checked in and get Marcus ready to start his 50 miler at 7am.
**Tip if you do this race - if you are a planner or someone that needs to stick to a schedule, you need to rewire your brain for this race. It is super chill, laid back, jump when you can, run when you can kind of vibe. (Even the race director will email you and tell you this.) If you want to jump first - BE THERE WHEN THE SKYDIVE PLACE OPENS - waiting at the door at 7:30 and get on the first plane. If you have to wait because of weather for jumping - it's a lot of sitting around. If you want to race, then either get there super early, maybe skip the skydive, or plan to do it the next day depending on the length of your race.
We had clouds so ended up sitting a lot waiting to jump. Finally around noon after having 2 sips of a cuban coffee at the food truck, I was like let's go run!! I took off did a lap which is actually 7.3 miles, won the 10k and decided to do another lap with Marcus - why? I don't know. The trail was sandy in spots surrounded by sugar cane fields, whippoorwills and the opportunity to see an alligator at any moment. It was lovely. Marcus completed 50 miles - yes, you heard me. Super. Man.
The clouds only cleared at the very end of the day, so we decided to stay one more night and I'd jump in the morning before heading back to the Keys. We grabbed dinner at a local Mexican place Taqueria Jalapeños and it was GREAT - probably the best chips and guacamole I've ever had - all very homemade.
We slept, got up, and went back to Spaceland. My jump was perfect. A beautiful, clear day, great temps and good people. This was my second time jumping so I wasn't nervous at all and actually enjoyed every step of the process. I couldn't have asked for more.
**Traveler's tip - skydiving tip actually - pay for the selfie pics and maybe the video if it's your first time. Kind of fun. I should have only gotten the pics, but here's my video. Also, the spelled my name wrong, but it happens.
If you're looking for an actual ADVENTURE with a race - do this. There are no prizes but you do get a finisher's medal and a buckle if you finish 100 miles (sheesh!) and only one water station on the course besides where you start. It's chill and fun and there's GREAT people. I met a couple people along the way that are friends now. (We should have gotten pics!!)
**Traveler's tip - for this race - BRING YOUR OWN WATER BOTTLE OR HYDRATION PACK. There are no bottles or cups at the stations so BYOWB.
Give yourself the opportunity to do something fun, out of the box and "risky." Stop playing it safe. Life is too damn short to miss out on any opportunity where you could do something exciting, inspire others and connect with new people. The kind of people you meet at these things are the ones that push themselves to new levels and aren't afraid of a little pain, they are strong in mind, body and spirit and are here to live big. These are the people you want to meet and add to your circle - these are the people that are really living. Because isn't really living what life is all about?