By this point, Beat was in the throws of The Battle of the Bug. We barely mustered the energy to unroll our sleeping gear on the floor of the tent and collapsed into unconsciousness by 4:30 p.m. He stirred me awake at 6:30 and we shuffled to the medical tent to see if they would give us any more drugs. Beat suspected bacterial infection and wanted antibiotics. I was still convinced it was a flu virus and sure enough, the doctor told us to wait at least 24 more hours. Not that we'd make it another 24, anyway.
The camp was abuzz with activity and chatter. One of the draws of Racing the Planet events is the social energy of camp, where runners from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Scotland, Spain, Germany, South Africa — really, everywhere — share their tales of adventure over a campfire and dinner. I was not in mood for any of it, and felt like I was wading through a exhausting obstacle course as I made my way through the crowd. Friends who had a good day and were excited about it flagged us down, and I tried to smile and listen even though the smell of their expedition food was almost unbearable. We made it back to our tent by 6:45, and, except for a couple overnight bouts with the runs, remained there until morning.
"Gonna try, have to keep water down first, though," I said. Peter later told us that he didn't think we stood a chance, given our demeanors the previous night. "I admire that you went out for the second stage," he said. "I didn't think I was going to see you again."
We tried to share one freeze-dried breakfast, a package of raspberry granola with milk. I only forced down about five bites because it was revolting and made my stomach do bad things. I did manage to eat several spoonfuls of my strawberry jam without issue. In fact, the small but immediate surge of energy felt like an electric jolt amid my extremely depleted state. For all of the bad press sugar receives, it is the only thing that works for me when my stomach has shut down. I regretted that my pack wasn't filled with candy.
We reached the finish at 2:12 p.m. for a stage time of seven hours and 12 minutes — an hour and a half faster than stage one even though the distance was a little longer. Basically, this just means Beat's low gear is faster than mine. At least it offered a few more hours of downtime before we really had to worry about eating dinner. I was still dreading that chore.