Event 6: Creation of Fire

The Sixth Event of the 2008 Mancathlon – “Creation of Fire” – was held in the Stone Age on Saturday 11th October and was attended by the following Mancathletes:
Jared Trail, Josh Short, Dr Kirk Stevens, Simon Judkins, Gareth Ballard, Duncan Reynolds, Thomas Rowe, Jason Gregg, Dr Todd Keenan, Conrad Blight, Brydon Price, Leighton Agnew, Gavin Marshall & AJ Sutton.
Since the dawn of time, mankind has harnessed the elemental majesty of fire. For the creation of light and heat, for fighting off predators and destroying utterly the villages of their rivals; burning their crude houses & grainstores while they laughed heartily from the sidelines, for the forging of swords, spears & primitive marital aids, and for transforming the bloodied & stringy flesh of their slain livestock into delicious, meaty steaks.  In the year 2008, when this ancient power that was once wrested from the gods by an upstart Prometheus now flows freely from futuristic devices in every room of our comfortable enclaves, what does it mean for man to create fire? To abandon the womb-like comfort of modern civilization and to rely only on his primitive masculine instincts – using just flint & steel to generate that precious spark, that ignites the tinder, that burns the straw, that consumes the kindling, that engulfs the wood in its heated embrace, swelling upwards in flaming red, yellow swirls until finally it sears through a thin line of cotton string suspended 50 cms above the stone floor. This weekend past, 14 lucky Mancathletes found out exactly what it meant and herein we find their compelling story…
As the habitual Mancathlon convoy of late model sedans, company cars and dirtbox hoopdies wound into Wainui valley, they crested the hill and were confronted by the absolute stone-cold monumentalism of Wainui Quarry. Possibly the most awe-inspiring venue of any Mancathlon event ever (barring the Dog’s Bollix and Rico’s lounge) the sheer rock cliffs vaulting upwards from the exposed stone ground, the native bush adorning the hills, the hulking carcasses of abandoned earthworks machinery lying around the quarry all combined to evoke a resplendent masculine poetry in the soul of every man there. The Mancathletes trekked down the long gravel road to the quarry hefting bags of dry pine & kindling, a large bale of straw and an unmarked box full of magnesium bars, flints and Opinel carbon-steel #6 folding knives while the quarry rose up before them, a monolith to their personal glory, or a mausoleum to their dashed Mancathlon dreams? Only time would tell. 
The gathered Mancathletes set to the tasks at hand, Rowe erecting the work stations with wooden stakes, string and builderly skill, Price, Judkins & Trail fetching skankwater from the stagnant creek, Short & Sutton slicing kindling with precise strokes of Trail’s winning but rusted axe and Blight standing around like a poser talking shit. Pretty soon the raw ingredients were laid out across the stony expanse, quivering with a latent potential to erupt into flame but awaiting the skilled hands of an assured & capable Mancathlete to coax them into full bloom. Between each pair of wooden stakes was drawn taut the 50 cm high line of string, and arrayed about the station was a uniform selection of vaseline smeared cotton wool buds, straw, kindling and pine wood, which along with knife, flint and innate skill would be their only tools in this contest. Pretty soon the wood was laid out and it was time for the thing to get played out, Round 1’s Contestants crouched by their stations preparing their blazing fires in their heads, visualizing the fierce flames that would signal Mancathlon victory for miles around and insure the bold etchings of their family names in various stained & thumbed historical tomes. 
Trail, Short, Stevens, Judkins, Ballard, Reynolds & Rowe all assumed the position. Crouched on haunches, foreheads creased in concentration & eyes focused on a distant horizon of Chiefly Glory. The starting gun fired, echoing like a ripple of thunder around the semi-circular quarry and suddenly the Mancathletes were off – furiously shaving magnesium onto wooden blocks, constructing crude windshelters with their allotment of pine, erecting teepees & stunning asymmetrical modern masterworks of tottering timber in an effort to flow those precious flames skyward toward a mockingly robust line of cotton string. The crucial realization was swift to dawn on these highly focused gentlemen; that it was child’s play to invoke the flame but to nurture and grow that precious seed into a fullgrown flame was man’s business. Short & Ballard bolted out of the gate with hungry straw driven fires licking passionately toward the sky, yes, they looked like easy winners but would their flames show the lasting endurance and fortitude required for Mancathlon victory or would they blow their precious potency onto the couch in a puerile pulsation of pre-fixture pique? Hmmmm.
While other men furiously fumbled with their makeshift shacks of kindling in various random kama-sutras of combustion the Beast from the North-East, Mr Jared Trail was diligently devising his own masterstroke of sexual firebuilding. As is his wont. A carefully constructed latticework of narrow pine kindling formed a rigid tower of Babel soaring ever skywards up which those mercurial licks of orange flame could dance their way toward the heavens in their own lusty fashion. Once the Various Small Fires (respect to Ed Ruscha) had erupted down the line, it was simply a matter of waiting, cultivating and praying for those flaming chimeras to grow larger & realer, to burgeon & soar upwards, battling all the while against the changing winds that eddied & swirled around the quarry floor until they could engulf utterly that tender horizon of cotton string. But here’s the thing dear readers – that cotton string was one cot-damn ornery sonuffabitch, hard as a diamond nail in and of itself, and once paired with the unpredictable spring winds, it proved an almost insurmountable adversary even for these battle hardened competitors.
With the aid of his long, flowing duffle coat, J. Trail managed to shield his precious fire from those capricious winds, but protection came at a price. With his rumpled face growing hot & creased from the hellish buffeting he looked almost ready to explode spontaneously in a shower of steak, sausages & Jack Daniels bottles. Somehow the big man managed to hold on though, focusing his rage into a Round 1 winning time of 11’33” as his long-blackened string finally parted ways with itself. Next up in Round 1’s success stories was the towering inferno himself, Thomas Rowe, folding his 7 foot three frame down toward the gravelled terra firma as he blew fervently on the stirring coals & flames of his own fiery efforts, his dedication finally netting him a 12’52” time and looking like a shoe-in for some of those sweet, sweet Mancathlon points. Old Simon Judkins rounded out the top 3 with a solid, but somewhat controversial effort of blazemanship at almost 17 minutes when he tapped his posts and provoked his string to fall, then spent the remainder of the afternoon tapping his opponents posts to prove that his string didn’t drop prematurely. 
From then on Round 1 became a battle of attrition between the two early juggernauts Ballard & Short, both with extremely solid fires but somehow unable to “go all the way”, their fires constantly toying with that tender string but not giving it the hard-loving satisfaction that it truly required. After countless frustrating minutes watching it dance intricate ciphers around the twine, Josh Short’s flame finally chawed through its bit as that hardy cotton string fell curtain-like to the sides. Ballard’s frustratingly tough-nosed string was less than a minute behind as one of his stakes disintegrated in collapsing embers and that fallen twine was finally consumed by flames. By this stage Dr Kirk had abandoned his fire, claiming beneficence on the wood-supplies front but prompting our lone female attendee to label the man as “a straight pussy”, categorically untrue but entertaining nonetheless. West-Coaster Duncan Reynolds persevered with his wildfire but was unable to take it over the top and eventually walked away in mild disgust as his nascent blaze was ignominiously dowsed in swampwater by a safety-conscious Rico.
As Rowe reconfigured the stations for Round 2, dark storm clouds began to gather over Wainui Quarry. Trail began to laugh and clutch his belly, bending backwards and roaring in pre-earned victory as the coming Mancathletes faced the prospect of attempting to light their primitive fires under siege by the watery elements. But suddenly the weather calmed, the seething winds died and the circumstances started to look a whole lot more favorable for the brave soldiers of the second round. The only hairy spanner in the works now was the sheer resources; the amount of wood remaining was looking spartan to say the least, the once healthy piles of pine sapwood were looking depleted and it was obvious that the gentlemen of Round 2 would have but one chance in their furious catapult toward victory. But not matter, one shot’s all that’s required for a true Mancathlete!
Gregg, Keenan, Blight, Price, Agnew, Marshall & Sutton closely attended their stations; prepping their materials and centering their beings, awaiting the flinty strike of the starter’s gun. Bam! It was on suckers. With all the lessons learnt off their randomised colleagues the Round 2’ers threw themselves into their task with glorious abandon. Agnew immediately set about erecting a focused and solid structure, his impeccable latticework evoking gasps of admiration & envy amongst the gathered Mancathletes. Price also was off to a roaring start with his immediately immolated straw bird’s nest fueling a well-planned tower of red-hot ligneous power. Blight meanwhile was f*cking around with a poorly conceived & executed teepee that soon collapsed under it’s own shameful weight. He quickly reassessed the scenario, gathering new straw & cotton wool and constructing a more solid affair, defensible to the wind and with an elevated pyramid of wood atop it’s reinforced platform. His feverish enthusiasm almost proved his undoing as he cleanly sliced open his index finger causing gushes of crimson blood to splash across his wood pile but he continued furiously onwards, his passion for victory unallayed by personal injury.
Whether it was through a dying of the winds, an assimilation of Round 1’s lessons or through a general breaking of the competitive seal it was clear that Round 2 would be considerably more massive than its predecessor. In a mere 7 and a half minutes, Leighton Agnew seared through the wire, with a reinvigorated Brydon Price a mere 60 secs behind him. A wildly excited Juarez reached completion a minute and half later as the entire length of his string erupted into flame at just under 10 minutes. Big Gavin Marshall exploded into a celebratory victory breakdance a mere minute behind him, followed ridiculously closely by the good natured canucklehead Jazzy Gregg just 7 seconds later, pipping the formerly dominant Ruakakian, Jared Trail by a full 25 seconds of “man time”. What can you say amigos? Easy come, easy go!
It took another 10 minutes of burning and earning for Round 2’ers Sutton & Keenan to flame through their ropes but once they’d had a taste they were cot-damned if they were gonna give up the ghost and they made sure that cotton string knew exactly where it stood in the scheme of things…dead last! And that was it dear reader, all she wrote with a foot note. 14 Mancathletes had squared off against the most primeval of all challenges, the ability to create and encourage a blazing, life-giving fire. To prove their masculinity in front of the entire tribe, to verify that they when the cards were down they could generate the heat, the light & the flickering, flesh-searing flame that would give rebirth to a dying village in time of strife and woe. All were called, and some men responded with the fury that Mancathlon Glory is borne of while others merely phoned it in. As the Mancathletes retreated to a temperate pub in Albany for a well deserved beverage amongst a typical Kiwi farrago of primed, youthful athletes and aging hangers-on, we sipped our delicious domestic beers and reflected upon a fine day of Mancathletic activity in an epic 2008 Season, congratulating victories & looking forward to the next clash of compatriots.
Special thanks to Guest Timekeeper Annaliese who braved the pheromone mists of The Mancathlon as Event 6’s sole female contingent. Extra special thanks to Austin King, a fine bloke & community minded citizen for kindly allowing us to burn stuff in such an epic venue.

 

TIMES    
     
Leighton Agnew 7’30” 5 Points
Brydon Price 8’26” 4 Points
Conrad Blight 9’59” 3 Points
Gavin Marshall  11’01” 2 Points
Jason Gregg 11’08” 1 Points
Jared Trail 11’33”  
Thomas Rowe 12’52”  
Simon Judkins 16’48”  
AJ Sutton 25’23”  
Dr Todd Keenan 26’36”  
Josh Short 35’43”  
Gareth Ballard 36’04”  
Duncan Reynolds D.N.F.  
Dr Kirk Stevens D.N.F.  
MANCATHLON POINTS TABLE [After Sixth Events]
Agnew (13)
Blight (11)
Price (10.5)
Guthrie (10)
Rowe (8)
Marshall (6)
Trail (6)
Keenan (6)
Stevens (5)
Judkins (5)
Brooke (3)
Watson (2.5)
Sutton (2)
Gregg (1)
MacFarlane (1)
Munro (0)
Reynolds (0)
Ballard (0)
Potter (0)
Short (0)
The Following Mancathletes were absent from Event 6:
Stuart Brooke, Shane Munro, Rodney MacFarlane, Randall Potter, Reg Watson & Phillip Guthrie.

EVENT 6 PHOTOS

Respect the Dunc

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