This blog is a continuation of the previous story. Please see the previous entry if you are just stumbling upon this entry.
After a solid set of dancing, they set up the room for round number 2. Aidos decided to volunteer for this round. He can eat, but I didn't feel he was a major threat. The same set up was given and Round 2 began. I immediately noticed that almost everyone was dunking. Had they learend this from me? Or did the more serious competitors just wait for a later round?
It quickly became apparent that only one guy would be a threat. He was on a good pace and did not quit. It was hard to keep track of how many he had eaten, but they were quickly disappearing from his tray. Then I noticed that two of his friends lifted a hot dog from his tray when the judges weren't looking. What?! Well, we are in Kazakhstan. And cheating is better phrased as helping a friend out. I pointed this out to the judges and they put the dog back on the table.
At ten minutes, all the competitors stopped. They counted Aidos's total. He had gotten 5 down. Definitely respectable. Then they counted major threat as getting down eight. But I counted, and he had seven complete hot dots left on his table and one half of one. That was eight on the table, meaning he'd put down seven. They miscounted! I tried to explain this to the judges, but they didn't understand. He'd only eaten seven and a half. And I'd eaten seven and 9/10. But by the rules, both of us should have been counted as seven. So I couldn't really complain that much. And maybe Round 3 would just blow us out of the water. Or maybe, there'd be a tie and I'd have to eat even more hot dogs.
The competitors for Round 3 were scary. Three guys weighing at least 200 pounds, one who was ripped, one with a chubby gut, and one that was just a big Kazakh man. Three minutes in though it was clear that the muscle man was a pretender, but the other two guys were serious contenders. They guy in black kept a good pace, eating one hot dog at a time. But the guy in white was a beast. He'd be dunking two or three hots dogs at a time and then ripped them to pieces with his mouth. He ate like an animal. And he finished eight hot dogs with about three minutes left. I was impressed. He stopped at nine before the judges reminded him of the steady progress of the guy in black and quickly finished off number ten to put us all away. As the time ran down, the eventual winner was just standing around and the guy in black just managed to finish his ninth. They called time and the guy in black ran off, possibly to vomit all of what he just ate (apparently allowed in this competition.)
So there I was, tied for third. There'd be a showdown. I'd have to eat more hot dogs. The announcer called me and the other guy with eight onto the dance floor again. They put a tray of ten hot dogs in front of each of us and said we had five minutes. At first, they didn't give me a chuck bucket, but I made sure I had one of those available. This was really the first time I got a look at my competition. He was taller than me, probably about 5'11, but wasn't very big. We stared at each other as if enemies, but then laughed it off. He seemed like a fun guy, but I was not going to give up without a fight.
The clock started and hot dog one went down surprisingly easy. Maybe going in Round One had given me the advantage after all. I did have about thirty more minutes of rest and digest than this guy. Hot dog two was a struggle, but I realized that water is great for getting down the last bits of a bite. It almost came up a couple times, but I managed to hold it down. My competition was about ¼ of a dog behind me but seemed to be slowing down. As I picked up dog number three, I looked down at my the timer on my phone. Three minutes gone, two minutes left. I knew I could get one more down. I told myself don't worry about the other guy. Just get this one hot dog down in two minutes. You can do it.
After the first bite, I doubled over in pain. That was entirely unsuspected. Up until that point, the problem had been holding down all the food. But now, my stomach was in agony. Ever bit I swallowed was like another sharp jab. I was about half way through though, and my competitor had just eaten the sausage from number three. One minute left. Dip, swallow, pain. Dip, swallow, pain. I was squatting, not even able to stand up. But finally, with one final swig of water, I was able to get the last bit down. I had done it.
Time expired and they declared me the winner of the eat off. My prize: a sweet medal and a bag of men's beauty products. And although I didn't win 100 dollars or the sleek stereo set given to second place, I left with pride knowing that I had put up a good fight for my country. Eleven hot dogs, fifteen minutes, not bad for a first try. However, I am astounded and amazed at what the pros can do, about 6 to 7 times more hot dogs than I can. Really, I think I rank that feat higher than iron man triathlons.