Expedition Impossible Behind The Scenes Episode 1
The COPS: Expedition Impossible: Episode 1
We left for Morocco in late March. You can imagine that training outdoors in Massachusetts was difficult. I did get some snowshoeing in the 18” of snow pack we had but there was no outdoor running at all. The whole time I was training in the snow I was thinking about the West Coast teams running on the beach…. Aarrggh!
The first three days in Morocco we had orientation which consisted of; interviews, and field tests on horses, mules, kayaks, rafts, swimming, navigation, first aid and rappelling. Funny ~ camels were never mentioned!
First thing you need to know is that every episode is actually two race days. There was SO MUCH going on but only 42 minutes of television for each show. On the first race day of every leg the last team does not go home. It’s only on the second day that being lasts gets you a helicopter ride.
Don’t get me wrong, there was an incentive to come in first or close to first. Besides bragging rights, every race day teams were released in waves. The first place team from the day before got a five minute head start from the other teams, the second wave got five minutes and so on…. Believe me catching trying to catch up from a ten to fifteen minute delay is tough!
Day 1 race started with all 39 racers climbing one of the tallest sand dunes I’ve ever seen. Everyone had trouble with this climb, it was similar to the old saying “taking one step forward and two steps back.” All three of us got or butts kicked on this hill but Dani had the worst of it. Jim carried her pack for a bit until she got acclimated.
Many teams took the dune head on. We decided to head to the right and follow a ridge up. Several teams took the same path as us. While walking up this ridge there was a steep incline drop off on both sides. One slip and you would fall / roll two hundred feet down….. Not very encouraging.
One thing the television did not portray as well was how high we were and how beautiful the view was.
The dune set us back and we fell into the lower middle of the pack.
After the dune were the camels. We had to load a camel with a saddle bag of wood and transport the wood to an outpost. [Lone Palm Outpost] Dani and Jim took the first ride on the Camel and I walked the camels on a leash.
I got to ride later….
On these walks there were many times that teams had trouble with the camels. One time our lead camels saddle bag with firewood slid off the camels back and was literally choking the second camel.
I was struggling with the saddle bag trying to take the weight off the poor camel’s neck. The camel was groaning and grunting and foaming at the mouth. I thought I was going to kill it…..
All I could do was take some of the weight off the camels neck ~ it was too heavy for me to lift off alone and my team mates were holding on for dear life as the camel was bucking and trying to get out from under the weight.
Luckily New York fireman ~ Kevin [AKA Fathead] came running over to help me. Kevin and I were able to get the saddle bag off the leash, unload it, put it back on the camel and continue. Team Kansas also was there to help.
Up to that point each team was still checking each other out…. but at that moment no one seemed to care about that or the race and everyone was just focused on helping the poor camel ~ it was nice to see, and I can honestly say that was not the first or the last time I saw it during my time in Morocco.
Fortunately, we were able to return the favor later to the Fireman and team Kansas when they ran into camel trouble and started a bit of a friendship.
Day one and I was already seeing people helping people. Being in public service that’s what we do, but to see other people competing against each other do it ~ I was totally impressed.
During this episode we were not shown much. One thing you did not get to see us doing was rappelling off a 330’ cliff and later miscounting the snakes.
Rappelling for me was like stepping onto that roller coaster for the first time. Your knees are shaking but after you do it you want to ride it again and again. I looked forward to all of the rappelling after that.
Like my friends in team No-Limits we too counted 10 snakes and walked 30 minutes out of our way and 30 minute back. We were super frustrated and this mishap ended up haunting us on the river stage……….. more on that later.
Up to the snake pit we were middle of the pack…we ended up finishing the race that day in the dark, wearing our headlamps, and in tenth place…. Not a great finish but looking to get in a groove.