So the fellows find themselves at another weekend getaway. We walk into the door to the registration table and every head turns to us. We look around in the awkward silence and realize that we are about 10 years younger than everyone sitting around and we don’t recognize a single face. If there is one thing I have learned in my time in the fellows program it is looking forward to the good God has in each moment. So when I am sitting upstairs later and turn to Jimmy, ‘why the hell are we here’. I am quickly reminded that God doesn’t make mistakes and we can be excited for the good things he is doing in these times that we can’t understand it.
So it is Saturday afternoon and we are enjoying a beautiful Portland day. The Oregon sunshine, aka the clouds, hide mr. sun from us. It was a cold day but thankfully, being on the coast, the wind added a nice little bite to this day’s cold. Like any normal 22-24 year old, we decide what better to do than go on a beach run on this lovely Portland day. But because we are guys, it can’t just be a beach run. We must add another element of stupidity to it to make it a real man’s run. Beachgoers in there sweats and winter jackets watched four guys with no shoes, no shirts, and short shorts run by them as they probably thought to themselves, “idiots”. They might have even said it aloud to one another. But we didn’t mind, we knew we weren’t stupid, we were just men doing man things.
Jimmy was leading the pack (he loves to run), Brian was just excited (he loves doing man things), Enrique had stopped to shoulder pressing a log he had found (he loves to lift) and I was trying to get the others to hear my complain, “this is the stupidest thing I have ever seen” (I hate running and hate being cold). But my complains fell on deaf ears and the man activities continue.
Jimmy had made this run once before, when I asked him how far we were going to go he points off in the distance, “the trail ends at that bend”. I thought to myself, geez I am not a runner and that seems like a long way. The cramp in my side was telling me that I wasn’t going to make it there and back.
A little more than a mile down shore we approach a river that cuts the beach in two. This was one of those rivers that starts from snow melt off the mountains and makes its way to the pacific ocean. So needless to say, the water was very cold and moving very rapidly out to sea. It is spring time so the river was wider, deeper and moving faster than it usually does. It is about 60 yards across. As we get closer Jimmy calls out “ok guys we are going to forge the river”. I figured he was joking but if he wasn’t I knew that was where I draw the line on this adventure. Brian and Jimmy walk in the water a few steps. ‘Oh hell no ‘I hear come out of brains mouth.
Enrique must not have picked up on the joke because he had stopped behind us to pump himself up for the swim. Like every good leader, he was working to set his reason behind him and motivate the troops by being the first to forge the river. So we turn around to Enrique asking what he should do with his heavy shorts. It wasn’t till after the experience did all the pieces make sense. To me, this was always a joke, so I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was taking place. Remember when I was complaining that this was the stupidest thing I have ever seen? Well what I witness next was legitimately the stupidest thing I have ever seen.
The next few seconds of excitement were a blur. I’m watching Enrique pump himself up, Brian has his phone out recording and Jimmy is cracking up. The last thing I remember is hearing Brian say, ‘These could be Enrique’s last words”. With one last ‘booyakasha’ Enrique was off.
A minute and a half later Enrique is struggling to crawl out of the freezing cold river. His muscles are no longer working properly for him. He is on his hands and knees trying to inch his way to the water’s edge. The first words that came out of his mouth (and he was serious) were ‘guys don’t do it!!’. Thank you Enrique, I am glad I have your permission to opt out of this stupidity. The next words were just as shocking, ‘I’m bleeding’. His body was so cold it wasn’t sending proper transmissions to his brain. So while he ‘felt the bottom’ when crawling out of the water, he didn’t realize that he was crawling over sharp rocks that were cutting his hands and feet.
When all this was happening I believed in my heart that Enrique would take one step in the water, turn around and say ‘sike’. But he actually did it, he forged the river! We have it documented on video. He sprinted into the water until the water got to deep. At which point he dove gracefully (or fell however you want to look at it) in and started swimming literally for his life. In the background of the video all you hear is hysterical laughter with an occasional ‘UNBELIEVABLE’ shouted through the laughter. The laughter stops after he had been in the water for about a minute and we realize this is dangerous and he is getting tired. At which point Brian’s voice turns into a more desperate ‘STROKE, STROKE, STROKE’.
The next minute reality struck and we had to make some choices. Enrique was struggling to stay moving. He fell over every few steps. There is no way to get to him except for running back to the jeep and drive to the other side of the beach to pick him up. Jimmy decides stays with Enrique to encourage him to keep moving, while Bri and I run back. This was the fastest I have ever run and the wind was strait in our face for extra encouragement. We get back to the car and my whole body is cramping. We drive a few miles and get as close as we can to the place Enrique was on the beach. Brian runs to greet him with warm clothes. When Brian got to Enrique and embraced him, Enrique lets out a cry that Brian described as a whelp. I guess that’s all he could do being so cold.