I was standing in a diaper and a Tyvek suit with somewhere between 50 and 100 other idiots, I mean athletes (Who am I kidding? We’re idiots, we paid to do this) standing around in a diaper, in a Tyvek suit.

By the way, did you enjoy that full frontal “getting dressed and interviewed” action shot?

Photo by: Amanda Ricciardi

With the tyvek suit and my ruck on I was on my way. I feel it’s important to note, though I briefly glossed over it before, in this moment, I had just overcome one of my greatest fears — being naked in front of people. Conversely, I spent the past seven hours becoming one with that mountain. I almost couldn’t believe it was me who dominated the mountain laps. The trick was, I didn’t rest for more than 5-10 minutes, at most, between laps. Over the course of the nine laps, my average base to summit time was 40 minutes, my average downhill time was eight minutes and my fastest downhill time clocked in at an incredible six minutes and change.

Here’s the caveat, that unrelenting performance up and down Joe’s Mountain combined with my secret weapon of a diet, mostly Mountain Dew and Skittles, brought me crashing down hard at the revelation we were nowhere near done with this madness. And as a reminder that we weren’t done, we were immediately subjected to a round of PT in our Tyvek suits, gotta love holding squats after blasting up and down the mountain. The quads and hamstrings were thrilled. And we were only getting started. What I thought was the end was only another beginning. It was a new day and a things were about to get heavy.

squats in tyvek suits at the peak races death race
Photo by: Dan Krueger

In fact, we were about to embark on a journey. There were two buses leaving from Riverside Farm. One bus was the less luxurious type, you know something very uncomfortable for a long drive.  Of the two bus options, it was the obvious choice for someone who is trying to “live the Death Race life”. It was a big yellow school bus. Complete with no leg room.

You remember those, right? That awful ride, the cramped seats. Good times.

And on the other side of the coin there was the luxurious shuttle bus with air conditioning, comfortable reclining seats, a bathroom, and all the luxuries you could possibly want in a bus ride.

It’s a TRAP!

That’s all I could think when I saw the juxtaposition of the two choices presented to us.

WWDRD? What would a Death Racer do?

Yellow School Bus and Luxury Shuttle Bus at Death Race Peak Races 2014
Photo by: Amanda Ricciardi

I thought to myself: There’s no way I would choose the luxury coach. That’s obviously a bad choice and whoever takes that bus is without question getting some brutal punishment for “taking the easy way”.

When it came time for everyone to scramble onto the bus, a majority of the participants went straight for the school bus. Like I said, it was the obvious choice. Personally, I had just made it in time. I was barely able to get a seat on the school bus. Of course, I was thankful for this because I assumed that we’d be rewarded for choosing the less pleasant experience when the option to have a comfy ride was being dangled in front of us.

But this is the Death Race, and there’s a catch, there’s always a catch.

With all the past knowledge in mind, I had to go with my gut.

If I do this, it’ll be to my benefit. It’ll suck, but it’ll be worth it…

And just like that, I trailed off into a state of consciousness somewhere between reality and la-la-land within moments of leaving Riverside Farm. I recall waking to the bus circling around a parking lot up the road near at the Mount Killington Ski Resort but we never stopped. That was a surprise to me. I thought when I saw the ski resort that we would probably have some tasks to do over here.

It’d be a great way to switch things up for the summer Death Race. I could have seen them telling us all to get out and build an obstacle or start clearing trails or something like that. The Spartan Ultra Beast was just a few months away and it takes place here.

Nothing. Nothing happened at Killington.

We kept moving, and off I dozed, once again. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open, I was out of fuel. As I closed my eyes and drifted away I thought to myself, Where are they taking us? Where did the coach bus go? What hell am I in for next?


We’re back at Riverside? What’s going on? Shit, how long was I asleep?!

I’m pretty sure there was some sort of instruction when we boarded the bus about not sleeping, but regardless, I had just passed the fuck out. This is the type of passed out where it could have been 20 minutes or it could have been a week and I would not know the difference.

Passed. Out.


No time to think about that. It was time to put my game face on, I had no clue what to expect. All I knew was we were being shuffled off the bus and the luxury coach bus was long gone.

What would they make us do now? How long would the other group be gone, how much of a mind fuck are we about to experience? It didn’t matter if I wanted to finish. I had to be all in. I had to be ready to suck it up and even though I just exerted MAXIMUM EFFORT on that last challenge. I cannot give less than 100% from here on out for the remainder of this event, every, effing, ounce of energy that I can muster up. I cannot give in, I cannot give up, no matter what comes, I will ENDURE. This is what I told myself over and over. You cannot fail.

Fortunately, I took detailed notes on my iPhone during the Death Race for this last segment of the event. In my notes, it says, “Bus ride to killington aka to “new York” we went to killington coach bus went to New York and we went back to Riverside. Then another trip to Shrek’s. Then 200 back rolls. Then off to Borden’s.” verbatim.

So just like it says, as soon as we got back to Riverside Farm, we were sent on another trip to the top of Shrek’s Cabin (we got to remove the Tyvek suits and diapers and return to our athletic attire before beginning again, thankfully). As soon as I had finished that lap, I was standing at a total of ten laps up and down that mountain in the past 10 hours, for those still counting.

Photo by: Kristine Iotte

Once back at the White Barn we were instructed to do 200 backward rolls, of which I’m certain I bullshitted my way through to some extent. Maybe I did 100 backward rolls before I continued on my way. It seemed like they were just killing time – and they were. My subconscious stopped taking the race serious.

When we finished rolling all around the field out behind the White Barn near the Teepee, we had to hustle our way to Peter Borden’s place just up the trail and across the main road through town. It was implied that the last few would be eliminated from the Death Race. From here on out everything we did was going to be a survival of the fittest. I charged ahead.

All the while, I wondered, “what are those other guys are up to? They didn’t really go all the way to New York, did they? Nah…they’ll be back soon,”.

At this point of the event, we were about 67 strong between both buses. That number is what’s coming to me, so I’m going with it. There were 24 on the shuttle and 43 on the school bus. (*I will update if necessary*)

When we arrived at Peter Borden’s, class, was in session.

Peter’s wife, Verna, had turned her backyard into a school session for us Death Racers, mostly consisting of physical fitness actives like rolling, and crawling, and races, and rolling. To be honest, in a lot of ways it reminded me of my Circus Stunts class back in my sophomore year of high school at Glenbard North HS, and with the first task being the unicycle, I was hoping my decision to take that class was going to finally pay off.

Our first task upon arriving at the Borden’s residence was to attempt to ride a short distance on a unicycle, it wasn’t even that far, maybe 100 feet at most. I was confident I could make this happen.

Nope, I failed. Would there be a penalty? Maybe, maybe not.

Next, we were instructed to make our way over to the slack line traverse, all we had to do was get from side A to side B. To my relief there were no requirements in the manner in which you attacked this obstacle. You didn’t have to walk across the slackline, all you had to do is get from one side to the other without touching the ground. Easy.

I decided to pretend that the slackline was like the Tyrolean traverse obstacle for some reason, and on a good day I could most certainly traverse across a slackline by walking one foot in front of the next with mediocre balance. Instead, I wisely chose to use the technique where my belly is on the rope and one leg is draped over the side while the other is used to push my body across the rope or in this case, slackline. Moments after laying flat on the slackline I was across to the other side and moving on to my next challenge at the Borden’s School of Fun.

Photo By: Big AP Photography

Before we continued participating in the school’s activities, we had to send our family members a letter. Everyone who made it here had to take the time to pick someone they loved and cared about and had to write them a letter. I naturally picked my parents, they’re the closest to me. With a quick note written to home, I turned in my assignment (we had specific instructions on how to layout the letter), and I passed with flying colors. It was too easy, really. Again, it felt like they were just wasting time. How long until that bus gets, back already? My patience was going to be tested.

After writing our letters home we got our penalties for not completing the unicycle challenge, 100 backward rolls, which were immediately followed by another 100 forward rolls and a whole lot of crawling, and hopping, and jumping our way back and forth across the yard.

We even played a few rounds of leap frog. We did some team relay races where we had to log-roll across the field from one spot to the next and our teammates would continue from there, and all the rolling was all too familiar, like the 2012 summer Death Race all over — but in a new flavor.

The worst was yet to come.

After all that nonsense, we were then subjected to landscaping duty in the form of steamrolling our bodies across this brush area, which as I recall made everyone very itchy. Thankfully, that suck fest was followed by a submersion in the river. Quickly, we were brought down to the river and it was demanded of us to have all our shoulders under the water, the five-minute time would not begin until that was achieved by the group.

Photo by: Kristine Iotte

On that beautiful summer day in Vermont, that river water was flowing, and here we had to keep ourselves submerged, for five whole minutes. Naturally, this was more challenging than I had anticipated. The water was quite cold, but for the most part it was nice refresher, the cold was welcomed by my sore muscles, especially my feet. It really felt good. This is probably one of the rare times I enjoyed the cold.

Photo by: Kristine Iotte

To be continued…


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