It was about 10km into the first race of the Musi Triboatton and I had hit my physical limit. The blisters on my hands had blisters and I was unable to hold the paddle properly anymore. In fact, I was so tired that I was having problems even pretending to row. My teammates on the other hand had no such issues. For the last 30 minutes they had continued at the same lightning speed that we had started the race at and it didn’t look like they would slow down before the finish line. We were in second place, fighting for first place, while third place was probably about 500 meters behind us.
I should explain at this point, my new team mates are professional rowers. Two of the people on the team represent Indonesia in international competitions, like the olympics, while my other nine teammates compete in competitions at the national level. Me on the other hand, well, I was just dead weight.
As I rested my muscles, I recognised the fact that this was no longer the case of the underdogs fighting to win, but the competition favourites taking their rightful place at the head of the fied. I also had a sneaking suspicion that if I wasn’t there, the team would be in first place.
At 13km, I was only capable of pretending to row – and even that was causing me difficulty. Instead of the months of physical training that I should have done to compete in the Musi Triboatton, all I had done was buy a plane ticket to Palembang. The last time that I picked up an oar was almost ten years ago and my only saving grace was the fact that I used to do a lot of kayaking when I was a child.
At 14.5km, none of these thoughts mattered. As we turned the final corner and saw the crowds lining the riverbank, I had a final burst of strength. I rowed for all I was worth towards the finish line, where my five teammates would take over for the last leg of the competition.
We crossed the finish line in second place. We were at least 100 meters behind the team from Jakarta and third place in the overall heat. Luckily, my teammates for the second leg of the white water rafting competition were without exception better than me. They pulled it back and we came in second place. Though the prize was 100% plastic, the prize money was cashable. Result! Just four days left to go!