As a former scout troop, I’ve had my shares of hiking in the early hours of the night but nothing like this:

With breath fogging the cold night air, about 300 competitors slid on skis or crunched in snowshoes over frozen ground toward the starting line. A brass band thumped out martial tunes as the race across these snowy mountains was about to begin.

At 2 a.m. Sunday, an Army bus carried us at breakneck speed along the icy roads to the starting point beside the Tannourine cedar reserve.

Its good to know that the army has mastered Lebanese-branded insane driving. And they’ve got a sense of humor:

“Now I know why the Army included proof of life insurance on the application form,” quipped one racer as the bus slewed around another hairpin bend.

Though I think it should have included proof of health insurance as well:

By mid morning, most of the teams had arrived, many of us with blistered feet and aching muscles.