“I can barely walk the next day,” declares Scott Jameson, the director of a supermarket in Socorro. “Your body is spent; you have no energy left. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done. It’s downhill all the way, with big rocks, sharp rocks and loose gravel. It’s hard on your knees, calves, ankles and muscles you didn’t know you had.
“It’s difficult to get spotters because it’s hard work,” Jameson laments. “I can count on my brother-in-law, but the others say not just ‘No’ but ‘Hell, no!’ ”
The good news is this desert course has no water hazards. The bad news is that it is one colossal sand trap.
“The other thing to carry is tweezers — for the cactuses. Regardless of how careful you are, eventually you’ll slip and run into one.”
Dennis Hunter, New Mexico Tech’s associate director of safety, security and training, manages the event’s safety. “We have EMTs, emergency vehicles, and search-and-rescue personnel ready,” he says. “We always have to deal with twisted ankles. Depending where [people] are on the mountain, it could take two to three hours to get them to a vehicle.”
Actually, the media causes more problems than the teams. “A reporter fell; we spent a lot of time taking care of him, and I still had to finish the game,” Stanley remembers. A misguided Albuquerque TV reporter arrived in high heels but wasn’t allowed on the mountain. “We’ve had national and local TV stations follow me. I end up carrying their equipment because they aren’t in good-enough shape,” Stanley laughs.
“One year,” he recounts, “a photographer slipped into the middle of a prickly-pear cactus. I handed him my tweezers. Bare cheeks to the wind, he got one spiny thorn at a time pulled out.”