At least, I think they were U.S. Special Forces. In 1998 I was working at the Max-Planck-Institute, a huge scientific complex which sits alone in a huge woods in southern Germany.
Well, almost alone: right next to it sits Patch Barracks, the Headquarters for the U.S. military in Europe, and also the location of a troop of Special Forces soldiers (one of whom is even today a very good friend of mine).
Anyway, one day I was finishing up my run with a sprint, when suddenly, out of nowhere, came a huge group of 10 soldiers wearing camouflaged clothes, backpacks, and boots. They were running in boots! But these crazy guys were not just running in boots, they were doing at least a 5-6 minute mile – with backpacks and in boots! This is not them, but this is what it looked like:
The strange thing about it was we literally ran into each other, and I suddenly found myself running along side them, mixed into their group. One by one they realized I was there, and they started snickering and smiling to each other. I wanted to stop – I badly wanted to stop. I had already done 4 miles and a sprint – I reached my limit and I could not run anymore.
Now, I am a wimp – but I am still a man. And there is no fucking way in hell I was going to give up in front of these guys and have these guys keep running! So as much as I wanted to stop I kept running. And soon I started praying that they would stop, because my energy was long gone and I could not run anymore and there was no fucking way I was going to stop.
Fortunately after about a mile the path forked, and when the soldiers veered left, I veered right – and kept right on running until they were out of sight. I collapsed to my knees, and for 5 minutes I lay on the ground and fought the urge to vomit. I had no idea why I wanted to vomit, but I later found out . . . vomiting is not a good thing.
Still, I was pretty proud! I did not stop in front of them!