Posts Tagged:

Adventure Race

Legend of the Death Race Year 2: Part 9 – Down with the Sickness

There I was in the middle of the forest on the other side of Bloodroot Mountain, sweating, nauseous, exhausted, hadn’t slept in over 48 hours and I had just spent 15-20 minutes vomiting up every last bit of nutrients I had left in me. What’s happening to me? I need to rehydrate and refuel to make up for everything that just exited my system. I tried hard to focus on my priorities so I could continue on.

I had passed my good friend Mark Webb earlier and he caught back up right around the time I was having my puking episode. He checked if I was alright and I assured him I would be fine, I just needed to gather myself before I continued onward. I encouraged him to continue pressing forward while I lay there just off the trail. Bugs were starting to bite me, my entire body felt destroyed. My stomach ached inside and out. I can’t quit, I thought to myself. I must finish this race. All I wanted was an official Death Race finish after having unofficially finished the year prior.

Trying to eat wasn’t really working but I forced down some beef jerky, picked myself up and continued to move toward my next destination, which I secretly feared, the Chittenden Reservoir. It was a certainty that there would be some sort of swim that awaited us racers there. I wanted nothing to do with it. It’s not that I am not capable of swimming, my father taught me how at a very young age by tossing me in the water and letting me “figure it out.” It’s one of those things I picked up at a very young age, I was a fish, every summer you couldn’t find me anywhere else other than the pool. As I grew older though I developed a fear of the open waters. Seaweed, sharks, sting rays, electric eels, the more stories I heard of people drowning or being attacked the greater this fear grew. I tried to get those thoughts out of my mind as I continued my trek.

Not even 50 feet after getting up and continuing I found myself keeled over yet again, expelling what little was left inside me before going into a dry heaving fit. The feeling was beyond awful, my abdominal muscles were becoming increasingly sensitive from all the flexing, not to mention the 48+ hours of activity that I had already endured.

Regardless of how much pain I found myself in I continued to talk myself through this dreadful environment I found myself in. You’re not quitting, you must finish. This will pass. Leading up to this race and after my experiences I had discovered something that I truly believed in, you are only as strong as your mind. In an effort to practice what I preached through my Legend of the Death Race Adventure Races I was doing everything in my power to convince myself that I could overcome this. My mind is strong, I can push through, I can finish. I just kept repeating positive thoughts hoping to prove my mind is as strong as I believed it was.

Continuing through the forest I found myself becoming increasingly delusional. The lack of sleep was having a compounding effect on top of the series of vomit episodes. I swear I saw at least twelve or thirteen different houses that evidently were not even there. Trippy stuff.

As Chittenden Reservoir grew closer I across what the next challenge would be before being allowed the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing swim. There was a large gravel load that had been dumped alongside the trail and it appeared that the racers were being instructed to spread gravel all along this trail. Once again we were being utilized to make improvements to the surrounding land. There are many racers who become annoyed with these tasks that seem to be just Joe getting us to do his and his neighbors labor, but the reality of it is we’re helping to preserve the very land we race on. I see nothing wrong with giving back, given the experience they provide for us.

Before I could begin gathering gravel I still had to deliver my rock that I had been carrying to Joe who was waiting for the racers at the reservoir. Along the way there were signs that mentioned the distance of the swim one must complete in an Ironman. Luckily for us, this wasn’t an Ironman. This was the Death Race. That meant we would have to swim three miles. Yes, three miles. I began to dread this next challenge even more.

As I approached the area I tried to distract myself and only allowed my focus to remain on the current task at hand. Gathering gravel to pave the trail. When I arrived I had realized everyone was taking an opportunity to treat their feet. Last year I had found I was quite fortunate and had some of the better looking feet, while still very disgusting, they faired quite well. To prevent my feet from the dreaded trench foot, I decided to take this opportunity to dry my shoes and my feet out. So, I took my shoes and socks off and laid them both out in the sun in hopes they’d dry just enough over the next couple hours that these two tasks would surely take. That’s right, I went barefoot for the trail grooming challenge. There were a lot of looks, and a lot of fellow racers asking how the hell I was trekking back and fourth up the trails on the freshly laid, loose gravel. Quite honestly it felt great. My feet were drying out, I had to take caution with my steps but this seemed like the smartest idea ever. At least, I thought it was. Dry feet equals happy Death Racer. Plain and simple and mine were on their way to dryness.

IMG_6741Once I had completed my gravel task it was time to face what would be the most dreaded challenge of all for myself. Three miles of swimming. Three laps, each one mile round trip. After each lap I would have to take a gamble and spin the “Wheel of Death.” On it, was a tiny sliver of hope that would allow passage to the next obstacle, the rest of the wheel would return me to the waters for another lap until I had either won freedom or finished three laps, whichever came first. I grabbed my extremely oversized personal flotation device, a life vest hat I had borrowed from my neighbors back home. It was not made for someone my size, even before losing all the weight over the course of the race, it was too big for me.

I began to walk into the water, remembering I’ve always been a fairly good swimmer I began to convince myself that I would be fine. The Vermont water was still as cold as ice. It was almost July, but up here winter lasts all the way until May most years. As I walked further into the water, now at my calves, I froze. My heart beat accelerated, during the gravel challenge I was slightly delusional but was feeling a little better than I had earlier that morning. My breathing became heavy and within an instant a wave of anxiety rushed through my body. Uncertain where this was coming from I tried to steady my thoughts, attempting to convince myself that I could do this and was still capable of finishing this race. I may not have been feeling well but I could do this, sick or not I could do this. I was freaking out.

To be concluded…

Photo Credits: Marion Abrams – Madmotion

Legend of the Death Race – Spring Edition

Leading up to the event I felt something I haven’t felt in a long time, not since I was working full time and attending grad school full time – about two and a half years ago, though it feels like a decade – I was stressed out. Coming back from Colorado I realized how little time was left until my second Legend of the Death Race Adventure Race, a program the started as a grass roots project to give people a simulation of what to expect at the Death Race in a shorter under 24 hour time period. Why was I so stressed though, I had everything ordered that I needed, banners arrived before I even arrived at Marxville Farm, t-shirts were picked up that Monday of the race. Everything was in place except for the marking of the course and I had already figured out at least 80% of the locations and paths – both on trail and off trail – that I would utilize weeks ago. So why after all the preparations was I so panicked? Because sometimes my passion for perfection gets the best of me.

Come Thursday morning around 8:00AM I had finished marking the course and finally was able to lay down and take a nap. Only a few odds and ends needed to be finished before the race began the following evening. The fear and stress started to fade and I set to work on finalizing some of the mind games and watched a few different videos to get me motivated for my role in torturing the racers for the next 24 hours.

After watching some clips from Full Metal Jacket and a other various motivational videos such as Rocky’s training in Rocky IV, I found myself ready to rest. The next 24 hours would be orchestrated chaos. It was glorious. We had 21 registrations, 12 participants showed up and only 4 would go on to finish. But I won’t go into all the details. I’ll let our female finisher, Andé Wegner tell her story.

“I’m bruised, I’m battered….but I’m not broken. Today, I finished the most difficult race I had ever undertaken and became the first woman to ever finish Legend of the Death Race.

A brief rundown of what happened during the race:

  • death race peak dr endurance legend of the death race training campsStarted around 6:30 pm Friday night. First task to fill PVC pipes with mud and water to form a slosh pipe.
  • Chop wood and fill 2 half pallets with the kindling.
death race spartan race peak races dr bear crawls

Rodrigo Velarde, destroying the first bear crawl challenge.

  • Bear crawls thru a 200 meter course in full ruck, repeat 5 times. Any swear words were punished with penalty burpees.
  • Had to complete 500 burpees in 45 mins, as a team. We did not succeed and had to do an additional 250 burpees.
  • Put our rucks on and headed to the trails for 9 pm, had to carry a slosh pipe for every 3 people and couldn’t allow it to touch the ground or penalty burpees would be tacked on. We had to go thru a culvert only about 3 feet in diameter and rushing with water. Tom and my third partner decided to quit after that, so Tom and I had to carry the pipe ourselves with no break – 4 miles hike total to the cub scout camp.
  • Get to camp and have to chop kindling and start a fire. We each had to go into a room and memorize three quotes by Confucious and the word in front of it. We all sat around the fire for a bit, and everyone told their reason of why they were there.
  • 1 hour of PT: 1 min plank followed 100 air squats, repeat a few times. Jumping Jacks for time (I think it was 5-7 minutes), 50 man makers, 1000 crunches, static squats for several mins.
  • Placed with a new team and carried the slosh pipe for another 2 miles to the base of a chapel, dropped the pipe and hiked up to the chapel where we had to memorize one of three bible verses (Revelations 2:10 – “Do not be fearful of what you about to suffer,” is what I chose.
  • Hiked back out to the base of a road and was instructed to put our sand pills totaling 50# into our buckets and carry them 1/2 mile up a steep hill, repeat 3 times, the first time holding it however you wanted, the second holding it out in front, and the third carrying it by the bucket handle.
  • Hiked back to the chapel, and had to recite the bible verse we memorized. Correct answers got 250 burpees. Incorrect answers got extra burpees depending on how bad you screwed it up. I recited mine just fine.
  • Hiked back to the slosh pipes and picked them up. Carried them down to the pond, then stripped down to skivvies and stood in the 40 degree water while passing the pipes over our heads. That went on for 15 mins, and we had to do squats in between breaks. We finished up there with 10 burpees in the water.
  • Ran with our rucks back to the farm (about 2.5 miles) and proceeded to chop wood for 4 hours, filling more pallets with wood. 
  • Put our rucks back on and jogged about 1 mile to a checkpoint. We then had to bear crawl up a hill 3/4 mile and back down, rucks on. 
  • Made it back to the farm, then had to solve a puzzle box ( did mine in less than 1 minute) do jumping burpees for a total of 1 mile.
log roll side roll challenge death race peak dr

Andé Wegner, our first female finisher, almost falling asleep at the log roll challenge.

  • Final task: 6 laps around the first bear crawl course, but we had to log roll. This, above anything, is what DNF’d most of the racers. After every lap 25 tractor tire tire flips had to be done, and then the Confucious quote was dug back out – needed to name the word that was associated with the phrase. I finished around 4 pm Saturday.

A big thanks to my mud brothers Dan and Ian for agreeing to undertake this challenge with me. Your presence helped me more than you’ll ever know. I’m proud of both of you for going as far as you did! 

Nick, John, T.J., Tom, Rodrigo, and Steve – you are all top notch people and I am proud to have raced this with you. Anthony Matesi – great job on putting together an amazing race, and I look forward to racing with you at the DR in June.

You tried, Death, but you did not succeed. Next stop , Death Race where we face off again. I assure you will not go easily.

This was an incredible second event and I cannot even begin to thank everyone who helped and was involved enough. Chad and Lisa are always the most incredible hosts and I cannot thank them enough for all that they do to help me organize and host the Legend of the Death Race Adventure Races. My volunteers this year were just awesome and I could not do it without you so thank you Candie, Matt, Dion and my father Rich. You all helped make the event that much better.

lostnscanned legend of the death race puzzle solving challenge revealIn addition to the support from all the volunteers, I also have to thank our sponsors for their donations, Innerzyme thank you for donating the samples and prizes. ZICO donated a few cases of their delicious coconut water for to keep our athletes and volunteers hydrated. Spartan Energy provided us with the energy boost we need to get through the 20-24 hours of mayhem. I also have to make a shout out to the startup company that I’m working for LostnScanned they provided us with tags to use for our puzzle challenge. Once the puzzle boxes were opened the racers had to have me scan a LostnScanned tag to unveil their next challenge – which was the Burpee Mile – it was a pretty cool tie in and made for a neat way to dictate second to last challenge of the race. Spartan Death Race Finishers of Legend of the Death Race Adventure Race Peak DR Training EventsOnce again we’d like to congratulate our Top Finishers, Nick Monette came out of nowhere like a silent ninja and won the whole thing, taking second was Jonathan Nolan – Founder of the Corn Fed Spartans, Tomasz Boltruczyk took third and we also had our first female finisher who gave us our recap above, Andé Wegner. Congrats again to all of you who participated and pushed your limits. You all inspire with what you do. Keep it up and we’ll see you at the Spartan Death Race. For those of you interested in the Winter Adventure Race, registration is now open. Spring 2014 Registration and new locations will be announced soon so stay tuned.

Legend of the Death Race – Part 11: Never Quit, Never Surrender

Here we were back at Riverside Farm for the last challenge.  To begin you needed to have a ticket, if you wanted to “ride.”  If you did not have a ticket you could earn one by doing 120 pushups.  Thanks to a tip from Morgan’s parents, I quickly grabbed a note card out of my bag.  I tore the card in half and wrote “ticket” on both cards.  I told them, “Of course I ‘bought’ the tickets for our first date.”  We gained our admission.  Jack further instructed us that at the end of each lap we had to answer a question of his choosing.  A correct answer made the lap count, a wrong answer meant you were re-rolling.  So that’s why we needed to know the questions and answers Morgan’s parents provided.  This made for a very interesting obstacle.  Before setting off on our first lap I made some adjustments to the gear I was wearing.  We would be able to set our bags aside too.  Jack made sure to insist countless times about how toxic that contents of that bucket were.  I wasn’t sure what we were up against and for fear of anything being on the course I took every precaution possible.  From my pack I took out a long sleeve compression shirt.  For my legs I was already wearing my long compression socks.  In addition, I put on a pair of construction gloves, made myself a bandit style face mask from my bandana and finally I was ready to rock.  Jack made a comment that I was the first to think of covering my face, and that it was probably a really smart idea.

Death Race "Roller" Coaster

A gentleman always pays for the tickets on a first date. Image Credit: Joei Harrison

Over confidence in my abilities led to brutal test of everything I had to give.  In large part because of my background in gymnastics I assumed I was capable of handling more speed. I threw myself into the fastest log roll I’ve ever performed.  For some reason I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe I had a chance to pass some people up for once.  My competitive edge was kickin’ in during the final hours.  The average time up until then for completing a single lap was somewhere around 20-30 minutes.  I knew I could destroy that time at the pace I was going.  Now I am not one hundred percent positive exactly how fast I finished that first lap but the looks I was given when I finished said it all.  I dominated it.  It was somewhere under fifteen minutes but who knows how long it was exactly, they were not timing us.  Jack asked me the smell question, I of course got it right and other racers finishing their lap with me were allowed to group up with my answer.  We were congratulated and our first lap was marked on a white board next to our name.

Enter Exit if you want to ride.

Death Race “Roller” Coaster Entrance and Exit. Photo Credit: Karl Allsop

That first lap went very well. The only trying parts were the few pins we had to avoid while rolling through some mulch and stirring the bucket of guts.  I waited for Morgan and we went back for more.  My second lap would be a huge reality check for me.  About half way through the lap I started to feel nauseous.  Was it the rolling? Was it the smell?  It didn’t matter…I had to get up and, and….BLARGHHH. Vomit number one.  Morgan’s dad passed me  some water; I sucked it down and continued.  Shortly after stirring the bucket I met captain vomit again.  It felt awful. Morgan’s parents continued to encourage me to go on.  I correctly answered the question about smell and prepared myself for the next lap.  Facing the third lap wasn’t too bad but I definitely slowed down more each round.  Throughout the lap Morgan’s parents would provide me with water and Gatorade.  They’re the best.  Thankfully, I only found it necessary to puke once during that lap.  Regardless of the vomiting, Morgan and I were still in high spirits.  Lucky her, she had no need to spew her guts out.  All of us, randomly sang every song we could think of with a verse about rolling.   When I got to Jack,  I answered the question about smell, it turned out Jack was rotating between just a few questions.  The smell one being the most frequent, of course.  After the fourth lap, which I completed puke free thank you very much, I needed to just lie down for a second.

Mark Demonstrates How to Log Roll

Mark demonstrating how to do a proper Log Roll. Photo Credit: Karl Allsop

Morgan’s mother, Dian, agreed to give me five minutes.  She made sure to get me back up to keep going.  Five minutes wasn’t enough.  I was feeling awful.  I shot up; I needed to go take care of business out in the woods.  This was one of the most awkward moments I’ve experienced in my life. At the time it was out of necessity, with a touch of absent mindedness on top.  I knew Morgan had baby wipes, but forgot to grab one before heading out into the woods.  She was close enough to make sure I was okay.  Before I even pulled down my pants I found myself puking.  Once all the toxins expelled, I turned around and dropped trou.  Sans baby wipes.  Oh, no!  “Morgan!!!” I shouted.  I need baby wipes.  Poor girl. Desperate times.  She came up quickly, handed me a couple and ran off.  Never in my life.  This wasn’t a time to be shy though and thankfully Morgan was such a team player.

The moments following my bathroom break were harsh.  My body was shutting down.  It was collapsing on me.  Snot was clogging up my nose and pouring out all at once.  Suddenly, I found myself shivering.  Instead of going back to where the rolling was happening I went back to the clearing.  Back where we saw Morgan’s parents earlier.  I curled up in a ball and tried to get myself back together.  What’s happening to me?  Completely depleted of food and water I still refused to give in.  Morgan came over and made a fire.  She’s damn good at it too.  Her mother cut up a pair of Morgan’s grandfather’s socks.  She helped me cover the only uncovered part of my body, my knees.  Derek, Morgan’s father, provided me with a vest to increase my body warmth.  With the snot spewing of course came a waterfall of tears. Uncontrollable, pain-felt tears.  It was as if every body part that had a releasable fluid wanted to join in on the fun.  I stumbled my words, “I. Am. Not. Giving. Up. I have come to damn far to quit this damn race.”  Morgan felt differently.  She couldn’t stand seeing me like this and thought maybe we should call it quits.  Quit? Hell, no!  Not now. We’ve come to far.  I told her that wasn’t an option. We had to finish. We had a pact.

Spartan Race Hurricane Heat Dog Tags

Warrior Ethos

My Warrior Ethos dog tag pressed against my chest.  A reminder.

“I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.  

I will never quit.  

I will never leave a fallen comrade.” 

I remember how great I felt when Todd gave me those tags just a six months prior to this experience on my 26th birthday.  A birthday I’ll always remember.  Thank you for everything, Todd.  In such a short amount of time he has taught me so much.  Todd played an enormous in my success.

Feeling miserable after the rolling

Morgan and Stacie nursing me to life. I’m in the middle, the orange is the end of the fire we had going for a bit. Photo Credit: Derek Mckay

From the direction of the Death Race “roller” coaster came another racer, Stacie. She had already stopped racing for a while now and was helping out; she came over to check on me.  I remember asking her for a hug.  It was one of the most comforting hugs, I have experienced.  Sometimes, all you need is love.  The love that comes from a hug can go a long way.  Stacie and Morgan spent time cheering me up, they switched over to encouraging me and telling me that I was awesome for coming so far.  The whole group helped bring me back to life.  They revitalized me with food, water, fire, and clothing.  It’s all about the essentials.  The simple things in life.

Before heading back out Morgan wanted to lie down to get some rest.  I was anxious to get back out there, but figured, what was another couple of minutes after racing for over 50 something hours.  Morgan laid herself down in front of me by the fire.  I cuddled up next to her.  Sharing our body warmth was pleasant.  I couldn’t rest long.  Within ten minutes I woke her up.  It was time to finish what we started.  Feeling invigorated, I had a new found determination to conquer this infernal race.

Just keep rollin' rollin' rollin' ah!

Ready to go back and get my roll on! Photo Credit: Derek Mckay

Morgan had pulled off an extra lap between my vomiting slowdown during laps two and three.  That left her with only one lap to go, I had two.  She insisted that she would complete both with me, regardless of what I told her. This girl is crazy awesome!  By the time we went back to Jack for the last laps, the sun had already set.  Everything was completely black.  The darkness would play to our advantage for the next two laps.  After clocking in my fifth lap and Morgan’s sixth, she revealed her plan to Jack about doing another lap with me.  He was stunned.  A racer was volunteering to do another lap of misery to help another racer finish?!  Preposterous, read the look on his face.  He radioed the news to Joe and Andy.   They too seemed taken a back at this announcement.  With the guidance of Morgan’s father, Morgan and I set out on my final lap, together.

We finished the lap at a nice pace, and answered the final question.  One last attempt to trigger our sense of smell.  You’re a sick man, Jack.  He was clearly trying to use the memory trigger from the question to upset our stomachs.  It seemed to be the only question he asked, as time went on.  It had 100% failure rate, thankfully.  Jack went on to inform us that when we were ready and we had our gear gathered, to let him know.  We didn’t need long. “Where to next Jack, we’re ready” we asked.  When Jack radioed Joe, he received an unexpected response.  Previously Joe had been directing racers to go meet at the top of the mountain, but this time he told Jack to hold us there.  Hold us here?  Are we really unable to finish? Are we really unofficial?  Concern overwhelmed me, if only briefly.

There we were, waiting.  Other racers were constantly coming through the rolling section. Answering that same memory sense question over and over. Seriously, Jack, you’re twisted.  It was getting to me even.  I ended up throwing a pair of gloves and my bandana into the woods because I thought they were making me nauseous. Eff that damn smell. 

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting we spotted Andy approaching us.  He lurked from the darkness but I quickly noticed he was in very high spirits.  Andy went around asking a few racers how they were doing.   He gathered an idea of everyone’s thoughts and feeling regarding the challenge.  Then Andy came up to us and asked us how we felt about it.  He looked over to Jack and confirmed that we had finished our laps.  Jack made sure to point out how Morgan was the only racer to voluntarily complete seven total laps.  Andy was pumped; he loved it.  He looked at both of us and said six words. Six word that meant more to me than, well, words could ever possibly describe.

“Congratulations, you finished the Death Race.”

No way!!! We shouted. We were completely shocked. We did it. We finished. We finished the Death Race. We finished the Death Race.  WE. FINISHED. THE. DEATH. RACE!  Overcome by excitement, we quickly calmed ourselves to listen to the last of his instructions.  All we needed to do was walk across the field and over to the pool house to claim our trophy.  Really?!  I couldn’t believe it. Is this real life?!

We finished the Death Race

Death Race. Vanquished.

We made our way over to the small shack.  We were greeted by Margaret and Chris.  They had relocated the HQ that was set up down at Amee Farm to this new location near Riverside Farm.  The red LED lights of the clock displayed over 58 hours.  Morgan didn’t know what our true status was.  She questioned it and told us we had to await confirmation. Seriously?!  The mind games never ended!  Andy came in and confirmed it. He congratulated us, and in his delusional state awarded Morgan second place female.  We were shocked and completely pumped.  Later we discovered his sleep deprivation got the best of him.  He too had not slept much.  Fellow Illinoisan, Amelia, placed second.  In mine and Morgan’s case we finished the race.

Albiet a few challenges were incomplete we still fought through everything we  were told to.  We conquered every obstacle presented.  Went from each destination we were told to the next.   We battled through feelings of defeat. We overcame the trials of the human mind’s ability to persevere, even when all odds are against you.  Morgan and I went through the transformation from being acquaintances to being able to trust and rely on each other in moments that would crush most people and swallow them whole.  The quest to finish the Death Race had come to an end.  We finished the Death Race.  I finished the Death Race.  Sure, the Death Race is an individual event but having someone, especially as wonderful, uplifting, and positive as Morgan. Oh yeah, and pretty.  😉  There is just no better secret weapon.  The power of human camaraderie can conquer anything.

Morgan’s parents snapped a photo of our finish.  We did it. I’ve never been happier. We hung out for a while and saw the top two male finishers come in.  In first place was Olof, a fellow Storm Chaser, and in second place, Junyong.  Those two guys are some of the most incredible athletes I’ve ever had the pleasure of racing with.  Junyong, it was awesome running side by side with you during one of the mountain ascents.  A few people shared some Death Race beers, courtesy of another racer, Mark.  I still want to try it!  The reviews were so good I heard they will be brewing more of it.  Margaret went around with her iPhone and live streamed the reactions of racers after finishing.  While she did this, I was on the phone with my dad, it was so cool.  My father actually logged on and watched me say hi to him after finishing.  Sometimes, technology is magical.  Being able to share that moment with my dad.  It was the caramel drizzled on top.

Morgan’s parents asked me where I was headed.  I never booked a hotel, there seemed to be no need since the race was expected to conclude Monday.  It was now Monday.  Just after midnight.  They offered the only thing they could, which was more than I needed, a hard wood floor inside a hotel.   We went back to the Trailside Inn.  Morgan showered first, then I had my turn.  I did my best to clean off the three days of stink. Once we were both cleaned up we threw on our Death Race hoodies and we all shared a glass of wine together.  I took a look at how gnarly my feet were, snapped a great photo. Enjoy.  Before I passed out I made plans to meet up with Mark in the early morning.

My Death Race savior

Morgan and I sharing one last moment together celebrating our finish. It’s a wonderful life.

The next morning Morgan’s parents dropped me off by Mark back at Amee Farm. He had already gotten most of my things packed for me.  We said our goodbyes and that was it. The Death Race was over. It ended so fast. but the memories are forever.  Mark and I drove from Vermont back to his place in New Hampshire.   After another shower, sharing a couple beers, and icing our poor poor feet it was time to head to the airport. Mark brought me there we hugged it out and I was off. Headed back to Chicago.

I was a Death Race finisher. The Year of Betrayal, vanquished.

To Be Continued… Next Year. The Year of the Gambler.

UStream of some post race stories, reactions, and me phoning my father.

Video streaming by Ustream

Legend of the Death Race – Part 10: Sleepyhead

Happily waiting for us at Death Race HQ was Joe, and a few others. You could see they were surprised with our perseverance. Initially, they didn’t want to give us another task but they gave in soon enough. We just missed participating in the Origami, so next on their list of challenges required us to head over to the nearby barn.  There, a half full flatbed trailer of hay bales awaited our bodies.  We were allowed to put our packs down for this challenge.  Perfect.  My shoulder was feeling some crazy fatigue.  This reminded me that I was overdue for another dose of pain medicine.

Hay Bail Challenge

Two Death Racers grab their hay bales. Photo Credit: TBD

Morgan and I set out immediately to begin slinging our 15 bales of hay, each.  We were required to take them from the trailer, however many we could handle at a time, and neatly stack them.  Much of the second floor had already been covered floor to ceiling by the other racers who already encountered this obstacle.  Starting out I took one bale at a time.  After a couple trips, I decided to attempt speeding things up by bringing two bales.  It wasn’t difficult weight wise, but I quickly found that taking two at a time meant being more cautious.  Too cautious.  Once I had those two bales piled on I went back to just carrying one at a time. I didn’t want to deal with the consequence of a bale falling apart.

Shortly after Morgan and I begun bringing our bales of hay into the barn a few more racers arrived and joined us.  After their arrival and a few trips to the second floor, I discovered the bales of hay that acted as stairs to the trailer had shifted.  I went to step off the trailer; my foot never found the hay staircase. TIMMMMMBER! Luckily, I caught myself with the bale of hay I was holding.  I moaned and groaned a bit about how uncool it was that the stairs moved, but it was likely an accident. Definitely not betrayal.  Regardless, before heading back up for my next bundle I made sure there was a safer makeshift staircase in place.  We continued to bring our bales of hay up one at a time.  This was one of the shorter, less demanding tasks thus far at the Death Race.  After completing this challenge we gathered our gear and went back for our next task.

Stack Hay in the Barn House

Stack all hay on the second floor, neatly. Photo Credit: TBD

Morgan became side tracked and began helping a couple other racers take care of their feet before continuing on.  Many racers were suffering from the nastiest cases of wet feet I’ve ever been exposed to.  Morgan had a huge heart, and didn’t want to let our fellow racers suffer. I found myself stunned at how much Morgan cared about the other racers.  That’s one of the things about the Death Race, though you compete you come together.  There is a mutual effort to defeat the race that aims for an 80%, or higher, failure rate. She finished tending a racer’s foot and provided him with some extra Gold Bond foot powder.  I encouraged her to speed things up so we could continue on to the next part of the race.  Helping other racers was great, but we were many, many hours behind.  I feared for falling further and further behind.

The heart that Morgan had for helping others was tremendous.  I was proud to be teamed up with such an fantastic woman.  We made our short trek from the hay bales back to where HQ was set up.  We checked in with our makers.  Our next task was supposed to be the carrying of a cement mix bag up to the top of the mountain.  Joe explained to us that not only were we disqualified but also we would never finish.  If we chose to go on we would be unofficially in the race.  We could not be swayed.  Our minds had been made up, and as with all the other attempts to get us to quit, we just rushed him to get to the point. All we wanted was for him to move us on to the next obstacle we needed to conquer.  Joe didn’t let up though; he kept on about how we could never finish, officially.  I refused to believe a word he said.

The back and fourth went on for a short while. We asked him if we could just have our cement bags.  Morgan and I wanted to continue on, that’s all we wanted to do, move forward.  Surprisingly we were informed there were no cement bags for us and to just move on. I still don’t understand why this happened, and would have loved to take on that challenge.  It irks me that we were kind of brushed off from this challenge. My shoulder was dead sure, but the endorphins were firing at full force.  I’m certain that determination and persistence alone would have been enough to get us to the top of that mountain with whatever weight they gave us.

Caution Betrayal Lurks Everywhere

Example of the hints and signs we saw on the trails. Photo Credit: Matt Davis.

Just before leaving I remember seeing Jennifer and crew one last time.  I ran the idea of joining us by Jennifer but she had just returned from quite the hike herself and was not ready to back up again.  Our timing was nothing but off this entire race.  It did not bother me though; fortunately, I had an awesome partner to race with me.  I knew it’d be all good moving forward.  As we tried to make our way toward the suggested we found ourselves blocked off by one of the animal pens.  Instead of taking the street back like we were instructed to we used this opportunity to just go back up the trail we had taken every other time.

This was one of the toughest ascents for us.  We were becoming extremely delusional.  It felt as though I was rambling nonsense. Even I had a hard time understanding half the words that came out of my mouth.  Sleep deprivation was certainly taking its toll on us and the results were hysterical.  Moments like these would have been great to have recorded.  It became necessary for us to take a break just to close our eyes.  Our levels of sleep deprivation were dangerous, especially given the environment.  You may be asking how the hell we took a nap out on the mountain in the middle of a trail.  Quite simple really, we dropped pack, took out my iPhone, and set the alarm for ten minutes.  Voilà!  Nap. Time.

The most challenging part of nap-time was the fear of other racers seeing us.  After that fear came the fear of some unknown animal for us.  The same issues we faced before, but for some reason our senses were heightened.  The wind blowing would freak me out and wake me up within two minutes of closing my eyes.  We clearly never actually slept, but just closing our eyes for those few minutes was what we needed to continue on.

Approaching the last obstacle

Morgan and I captured by her parent’s just before our next obstacle. Photo Credit: Derek Mckay 

During our trek through the mountain passes we saw a lot printouts of the same images from the hints we saw prior to race start.  At first I didn’t think much of it, but as we kept seeing more I started to wonder if this was the last obstacle coming up.  We came to a clearing and out of nowhere came Morgan’s mother and father running to us from where the next challenge took place.  Beyond seeing their daughter again, there was purpose to them coming toward us with such haste.  It turned out they had done some recon work and had some intel for us.  Sweeeet.  They shared with us two of the questions and answers being asked as part of the next challenge.

Q. What sense is most connected to memory? A. Smell

Q. Which athlete does the most squats during their sport? A. Catcher

Very odd questions I thought to myself.  Morgan’s parents gave us a run down of the upcoming challenge and explained to us that they were not allowed to help Morgan but they could help me. I didn’t understand why but this is the Death Race, sometimes you just gotta go with it.  Morgan and I made our way over to the challenge and Jack began to explain to us the most intense obstacle we would face yet.  Mark was there also, it was good to see him smiling.  When the task was first presented to us I underestimated how difficult the challenge would be.  To finish this obstacle we were to perform a log roll, lying on your side and rolling your body…like a log, through a quarter mile loop.   At the halfway point they had strategically placed a bucket.  Inside the bucket?  Rotting intestines, and other internal organs from a bull.  That had been out in the hot sun rotting for the past two months.  We were to stir the contents of said bucket ten times during each lap of the course using a stick they left in the bucket.

Navy SEALS Training Obstacle

Jack’s Navy SEALS based Secret Weapon. The Log Roll Challenge. Photo Credit: TBD

We were to do this for a total of six laps.

To be concluded…