When Jason Hood talks about his son Micheil, you can see how the pride in him makes him feel. His eyes sparkle and his chest swells. He beams with joy when he talks about him.

“Let me start by saying how proud as parents my wife and I both were for the choice he made. As a kid around age 7 he always wanted to be in the military. After graduating high school he enrolled in college, was doing good but felt he wanted to do more with his life so he came to my wife and I and said “I want to join the Army“.

When Jason spoke to Spartan Race about him, a genuine father’s love shone through each word he spoke. When he graduated as an Infantryman in August with the 3rd Combat Brigade, (“The Spartans”), 10th Mountain Division, it took less than a month for him to be deployed to Afghanistan. 

Jason continues, “This deployment is a big deal for the brigade, due to budget cuts, this will most likely be the last for them as the brigade will be deactivated. How honorable is it that his deployment may be of historic nature?”

Such is his pride for his son, Jason decided to honor his son by undertaking one of the most arduous, toughest events in the world. Later this year, Jason will be taking part in the summer Death Race as a tribute to Micheil.

“It’s as a show of respect to him and others alike. I am going to enter the Spartan Death Race this summer as a tribute to all they have done to become Spartans in hopes that I may become one in my own way.”

When asked about the Death Race, the preparation for it and how he thinks he’ll do, Jason remains bluntly honest.

“First of all I must be crazy to even consider attempting something with a title like that I feel the need to see if I can endure it and I want to be pushed to the edge. How will I approach it? Head first! I will not stop! What do I expect will happen? That’s a good question and I have no answer for it! Does anyone really know? How do I think I will fare? Failure is not an option for me at this point in my life!”

Spartan Race would like to thank and salute Micheil and all those in the military for their service.

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Oftentimes we hear of the “race within the race” referencing some intriguing subplot. Nowhere was this more true than in Killington, VT the weekend of the Reebok Spartan Race World Championships.  But, the story is from a different race that had quietly started Friday afternoon without fanfare and with very few spectators – the Peak Team Death Race.  The Peak Team Death Race and the athletes who participated are a rare breed.  Numbering less than 60 and competing in teams of four they would be out in the Vermont wilderness for three days in a desperate attempt to earn a coveted Death Race finisher skull.

Born in 2004, the Death Race is the Spartan Race origins.  The DNA of where Spartan Race was founded in this epic endurance challenge that sees a finish rate just over 10% in most events.  A summer, winter, team, and traveling version, the Death Race is a very different event that the obstacle course races in the Reebok Spartan line-up.  Lasting several days and with no idea what challenges and tasks will be required to finish, it’s brutalizing.  Founder Joe De Sena says, “Spartan Race in a baptism into this life, the Death Race is an exorcism.”  This Death Race would prove to be one of the most difficult to date.

When the Death Race’s annual Team competition kicked off in nearby Pittsfield (well, not so “nearby” when you have to hike the whole way, in the rain, through your second night of zero sleep, deep in the woods, with your wrist zip tied to a long rope shared by several dozen other racers) and included steep climbs, frigid rivers, moving massive loads on slippery paths, all with no idea what was coming next or how long it would all last.  

This spectacle arrived in the resort town just before midnight Saturday, out of the cold, dark, wet night, as groups of four filthy runners came off the highway and towards the Wobbly Barn. Inside, the party was rocking, with hundreds of athletes dancing and celebrating with their finisher medals proudly dangling from their necks, earned on the Saturday Spartan Race courses in Killington. Soon, many of them were drawn to the front door to gawk, open-mouthed at the Death Racers amassing to bang out hundreds of burpees in the muddy parking lot. And these weren’t the glorified squat thrusts that so many people try to get away with, either. These were chest to deck, jump with a clap overhead, full-blown burpees.

And when everyone else went back to their after-after-parties in condos with hot tubs, these Death Racers sat in the rain on the gravel by the registration tent, waiting for their bibs and chips for the UltraBeast kicking off the next morning at 6 AM. Yes, after 48 hours of brutal work, freezing cold, and no sleep, they were told to complete the hardest obstacle race ever staged and with their packs and the same time cutoffs as the rest of the field.

If you think this story could be no more incredible, it’s time you meet Noah Galloway. In 2005, Noah was stationed in Iraq where, during his second tour of duty, he lost his left arm and his left leg in an IED attack. Now, 8 years later, he was huddled in the cold with his fellow racers. In the two full days prior he had neither asked for nor received any special treatment. He lifted the same rocks (ok, even bigger), climbed the same hills, took the same abuse as everyone else. With one arm, one leg and am indomitable spirit.  He’s no stranger to Spartan Race courses, either.  With two finishes in Virginia, most recently Wintergreen, and Carolina in 2012, he dons a blacked out gas mask and runs along with Operation Enduring Warrior, an organization aimed at empowering and motivating injured veterans.

Plenty has been written on the insane difficulty of the Ultrabeast and the low finisher rate, hovering around 42% on the day with chilly temps, and muddy tracks making the course even more challenging than designed.   While most people would never, ever, EVER even consider taking on the Ultra Beast, much less the Ultra Beast after 48 grueling hours, Noah is clearly not most people. Nor are his teammates, Nele Shulz (2013 Winter Death Race Champion), Andrew Hostetler, and Eric Matta of team Reload Fitness.

At the outset of the Ultra Beast, the racers were told that finish position would be determined by combined team times. So it made sense for the fastest runners (in this case Andrew and Eric) to go out hard, and for Nele and Noah to do their best to keep up.

Over 12 hours later, David and Eric had arrived at the end of the course and were looking for their teammates.  They could certainly be forgiven for looking for a chair in which to wait – after all, they’d been up for about 60 straight hours and had covered countless mountain miles. Instead, they set off backtracking the Ultra Beast  course so they could all come across the line as a team.

Fast forward to 8pm. Long after dark,  all four are working together. Nele’s legs swollen painfully, but still moving forward. . Noah’s prosthetic leg had broken and was barely able to support any weight, forcing him to practically hop the balance of the race on his other leg. They each credit the other with having gotten them this far, and now Andrew and Eric shouldered the extra load, supporting their friends while they moved as a unit towards the finish.

There are countless stories from this year’s Team Death Race that will stand out in the minds of those who were there to bear witness. Mark Jones’ superhuman performance throughout.  Vermonter Jane Boudreau Coffey’s inspiring finish,  earning her coveted skull.  People helping one another along the way, sharing food, water, and encouraging words. The sight of 60 year olds racing alongside 20 year olds in one of the most difficult Death Races ever delivered, everyone suffering as a unit to finally cross the Ultra Beast finish line and be told, “You’re done.  It’s over.”  Hearing those words and knowing that it was finally time to stop, was like music to their ears.

And among the finishers at the sushi restaurant after the race, a team of four, Nele being carried in unable to walk, barely able to keep their eyes open, Team Reload Fitness celebrated their finish as a team clutching their hard earned finisher skulls.

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by Matt Trinca

It’s Friday afternoon. The Death Racers have been going now for 5 hours, moving boulders and cutting branches to clear a path up to Joe’s cabin. Joe De Sena and Andy Weinberg are standing atop a climbing wall, explaining the theme – Gambling – and the rules for this year’s event. “We started the Peak Death Race to find people that we’d like to hang out with,” explained Andy. “We wanted to surround ourselves with people that inspire us.”

Team SISU was started with the same premise. Two years ago, as Daren de Heras and Yesel Arvizu were training for their first Death Race, they formed this small team to help prepare themselves for an event cloaked in mystery and madness. Neither of them finished the race that year, but they came back with a burning desire to push themselves further, and that desire spread amongst their friends. In 2012, 7 members of Team SISU traveled to the Peak Death Race and 4 of them finished… ”unofficially.” Bolstered by this success, the team continued to grow, and now boasts more than 800 members across the country.

SISU is a Finnish word, meaning “ultimate determination, fortitude, and persistence, carried to an unfathomable level.” But to sum it up in one word, SISU means “guts.” The mission of Team SISU is to, “forge unbreakable athletes,” and nowhere was this more apparent than at the 2013 Death Race, where 10 members came to race, along with 5 members who came to serve as support crew and volunteers.

Bolstered by a team camaraderie developed through various team events, such at the 50+ mile Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run in the Grand Canyon and the 24+ hour SISU Iron adventure challenge, the true grit of each team member was truly on display over the course of the 72 to 80-hour 2013 Death Race.

There was a point in the event where each racer was pushed to their limit, and faced with temptation to quit. Whether it was an injury, soreness, lack of sleep, mental fatigue, competitiveness, or fear, all had their own personal demons to face down. In a situation like this, just toeing the start line takes tremendous courage, and a “Did Not Finish” or “DNF”, is nothing to be ashamed of. But for those who were able to reach down deep and push through the pain and doubt, there was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Daren de Heras finally earned his first “official” finish. “It’s a great feeling. The 2013 Winter Death Race left me with some unanswered questions about myself, but I now feel like I have my confidence back. What a way to celebrate my 40th birthday!”

Will Bowden – first time Death Race competitor and 5th place male finisher – had this to say, “This race was a game changer for me. Any situation that brings you to your mental or physical boundaries (or both), and allows you to decide if you want to hold short or cross them and create a new boundary, will always change the core of your being. The Death Race did just that.”

Eric Wyler – another first time competitor and Death Race finisher – said, “The race was incredible. It’s truly an experience that strips you down and exposes parts of yourself you never though existed. During the 70-ish hours the race lasted, there was nothing on my mind other than the race. Time seemed to pass in a strange, continuous way such that I lost track of whether it was Friday or Saturday or Monday morning. It’s always incredible to do these races and meet so many inspiring people.”

Even the SISU support crew got into the act, staying up long hours to prepare food, shuttle supplies, and provide logistical support to the SISU racers. Three team members even took part in an overnight, 30+ mile hike that brought more than a few participants to their knees. And they did it not for money or glory, but merely for a mutual respect and love for their friends, a bond forged through shared experiences of hardship and triumph. Racers and crew alike bonded together supporting each other, and pushing each other to dig deep, not to quit, and show that true grit which embodies the word, “SISU”.

Team SISU will be back again for the 2014 Peak Death Race, where the theme will be the Year of the Explorer. Find Team SISU at www.facebook.com/groups/278263838919491/. And check out the Peak Death Race at www.youmaydie.com.

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So, I survived the Death Race. I lasted a little over 24 hours before I was cut due to a time hack. I was the 20th person to go out of the race of the 194 who started, but the first person to be cut and not quit.  I said from the beginning that I wasn’t going to quit and I didn’t. I showed everyone out on that course that I was not going to go down without a fight and that they had to either carry me out or cut me.

In regards to the experience, I truly learned a lot. I learned that I had more fight in me than I thought I did. I found myself even more of a man than I thought I was out there on the mountains of Vermont. I found a deeper soul there as well. People might complain about getting cut or quitting or even saying it was not fair but I pushed through every single task and no one time did I complain or want a handout due to my illness/disability.

As to what is next, time will only tell. But I am going to have to take a break from OCR or racing for at least six to eight weeks.  I broke my foot Sunday night when I arrived home from Pittsfield, Vermont and the Death Race. Funny, I have climbed mountains, became the first ever Paralyzed Spartan and now the first ever Spartan Death Race competitor and I cannot even get to my front door without breaking my right foot!

I will use this time to prepare for my goal of having the first ever Adaptive OCR course and I will continue to train hard in the gym for strength and in hopes of getting in even better shape.

Thank you all for the support and thank you all for the thoughts while I prepared for this awesome journey.

- Chasing Michael Mills

To learn more about the 2013 Peak Death Race, please click HERE.

[Editor's Note: Photos courtesy of Marion Abrams, Peak Races.]

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by Johnny Waite, Spartan Death Race finisher

Death Race 2013: The Year of the Gambler. Already the rumors are rampant and the speculation is swirling.

How long dare they make it? The last four years have seen it swell from 12 hours to 28 to 45 to 70 – Yes, that is SEVENTY HOURS, without rest! There is a reason why we see less than 10% finish this grueling challenge for survival in the haunting mountains of Pittsfield, VT.

Like every year before, the rumors are running rampant. There is talk of hard cut-offs for time hacks, disrupting many racers strategy of “slow and steady” and of teams being broken up and certain challenges planned to make even the toughest competitor fail. Of course, Joe De Sena and Andy Weinberg Death Race Directors are not talking, except when they are mocking participants and making sure the race mystery and intrigue stresses out the field and increases the chance of failure.

“We’ve gotten really good at getting under people’s skin,” boasted Joe. “We like to study them and figure out what is going to break them.”

Olof Dallner

More people are expected to start this year’s Death Race than ever before but, as usual, only a handful will ever finish.

Some names to watch are; Olof Dallner (defending Champion who also has 2 straight Winter Death Race wins and is looking to add his second straight Summer title for four in a Row and a claim to “best ever Death Racer”), Junyong Pak who finished a strong second last year and is always a threat, and the trio of Don Schwarz, Ken Lubin and PJ Rakoski who were leading last year at 50+ hours when they decided to pack it in (Don, in particular, has been training like a mad man looking to settle a score).

On the women’s side; Amelia Boone is always a threat and is expected to fare well in the mental and physical challenges on tap for the competitors. Nele Schulze came out of nowhere to win this year’s Winter Death Race and is looking to be a woman for all seasons, and Morgan McKay went from unknown to 2012 finisher and now to a woman on a mission for the top spot.

No one, veteran or rookie, knows what to expect or what to prepare for, except pain, exhaustion and utter frustration. That is what makes the Death Race so special. And so brutal. And it all gets underway June 21, 2013 in Pittsfield, Vermont.

Do you have what it takes?  Read more about the Death Race HERE.

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by Carrie Adams

In 2012, the Death Race was themed, “The Year of Betrayal.”  All told, 344 would enter the race and over 82% would DNF (Did Not Finish).  The final finisher would finish in just over 67 hours.  Where 2011 saw a beginning to the race with five hours of lifting stones, 2012 began with an ultra marathon in teams carrying a heavy weight.  Denied their packs with food, water, and other precious self-support supplies, it was arguably the most grueling test to date.

Fans online remained glued to the Facebook updates as the names of those who would not finish the race piled up as the hours marched onward.  Some of our most popular posts on the year came from this remarkable challenge unlike any other on the planet.  No known start or finish time, no clue what will be asked by Race Directors Andy and Joe, it’s something you just hope to survive.

Here are the official 2012 Death Race Results, with winner Olof Dallner putting on an impressive performance (all while rocking his green sunglasses).  In addition to overall results we featured the women of the 2012 Death Race.  Notably, Amelia Boone, who finished third in the Winter version of the event, finished in second place and is planning a return in 2013.  Click HERE for more on the Women of the Death Race.

Finally, Spartan friend and Obstacle Racing Magazine editor Matt B. Davis was onsite and lent his perspective on the event from the ground level.  Awake and reporting for much of the 67 hours, his candid report gives insight into what it is like to bear witness to such a physical, mental, and emotional undertaking for the participants.  His report began with, “Betrayal. I was on site at Amee Farm less than 15 minutes when I was confronted with it directly.  I walked up to Race Organizer Andy Weinberg asking him if he had seen Todd Sedlak. I came to the Death Race to crew for my pal, Todd and I know Andy has a sweet spot in his heart for Sgt. Sedlak. Instead of being met with a smile, Andy quickly dismissed me saying, “Todd’s not here, he is out of this year’s race. If he’s not here by now, he will never catch up and finish on time”.  He then quickly walked away.  I was baffled. I had no idea at the time, but I had walked squarely into the game that was the 2012 Death Race.”

To read his full recap, click HERE.

For those of you foolish enough to want to participate, there is still room in 2013, themed, “Gambler.”  You can take your chance, roll the dice, and hope to cheat Death.  Go to www.youmaydie.com to get signed up.

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by Carrie Adams

The Death Race brings men and women from all over the country to try their hand at finishing  a race that has both a death waiver and a less than 15% finisher rate on average.  Each person who is called to Pittsfield has their reasons to take on the race and for almost all of them, it’s life changing.  For Parker Eastman, age 17, his finish was not only a herculean feat, but a Death Race record.  He became the youngest participant ever to finish the race.  His brother, Spencer, previously held that record when he finished in 2008 at age 18.  Hear Parker’s incredible story in his own words of how he took on the Death Race in the year of betrayal and emerged with his finisher skull. 

Hungry, tired, and alone, I begin an ascent up a desolate mountain road.  I haven’t eaten in nearly 24 hours, and I haven’t slept in well over 30.  My feet ache from constant hiking over the past day; they’re raw and blistered from frequent submersions in the local rivers coupled with the elongated hikes.  I dream of ending the suffering, of walking to a race director, saying “I quit!” settling down, and filling my stomach.  But, I can’t do that.  I can’t quit, because deep down, I know that I can handle more.  Regardless of how pained I am, I don’t need to stop.

Few fail this race physically.  A majority fail mentally.  I do not want to fall into the latter category, the group that decides the race is too much, quits, and then tries to justify to themselves and others why they quit.  The only way I’m ending this race, is if I collapse.  So, I begin muttering to myself, “I may fail, but I will not quit!”

And so the hours pass and so the suffering continues.

A day later, and I’m back on the same mountain.  I’m tasked with carrying a 55 pound box housing an Ice and Water Shield six miles to a cabin that sits atop the mountain.  My arms can hardly hold the weight; the result is short bursts of running with the box, while it rests on my shoulder.  Lack of food and sleep have caused mass frustration on my part, and results in frequent outbursts at those that have come to support me.  Rumors have surfaced that this is the final challenge; the coordinators have spread through the support groups that the state of Vermont has mandated that the race ends at 7 PM.  All hopes are stifled upon my return to Amee Farm, when I’m told my task is to summit the mountain again, and then descend to the farm at the base of the opposing side.

I’m told to team up with another man, one of the older competitors whose belittled the challenge in marathons and Ironman competitions.  We decide to hike up a ravine that transcends the switchbacks that would otherwise lead us to the summit, cutting the hike from 1+ hours, to about 25 min.  The conversation that ensues focuses on the fundamentals of mental toughness, particularly what sets those of us that remain from those that have dropped from the race.  In endurance racing, there are peaks and valleys.  Some of the time, you feel great.  You’re at the peak, and feel as though you could go forever; your feeling reinforced by constant positive thoughts.  Yet, endurance races are long enough for you to take on the opposing viewpoint; you’re not strong, you’re tired, underprepared, and the pain will all go away with the simple words “I quit.”  It’s not how great you feel during your peaks that defines how strong you are, but how well you cope with the valleys.  More training may make you peak higher, and it may even dampen the valleys, but if you have a weak mental game, there is no hope of finishing an event like the Death Race.

Somewhere along in the pain and suffering, the question is raised, “what am I willing to give up to finish this race?”  For me, I was willing to give up everything.  There is no greater pain than failure, so at hour one when I was struggling to hold a kayak above my head, hour 36 when I was hypothermic from sitting in a pond for 45 minutes, hour 45 when I was carrying an 80 pound stump up a mile and a half slope, hour 50 when I was carrying a 55 pound “Ice and Water Shield” box 6 miles up a mountain, or hour 60 when I was hallucinating, vomiting, and rolling around in others waste, I pushed through my physical pain.  I did not want to fail myself by saying, “this is too hard for me.  I quit,”  because I knew that was a lie.  So, after more than 60 hours of not failing myself, I finished.  344 began that race thinking they had what it takes to finish, yet only 51 finished.  51 people said to themselves “there is nothing this race can throw at me that will make me quit”, and they all won a skull for believing so.

Events like the death race teach us a lot about ourselves.  A majority of competitors learn what they can handle, and at what point the pain becomes too drastic to endure.  Yet, a small percentage learn that, in a mental sense, they are unstoppable; there is nothing that can be thrown at them that will make them stop.  For these few, they would rather die than not finish the race.

A lot of people asked me why I signed up for this race.  With a name like “The Death Race”, many would be perplexed at the allure of the event.  My honest answer, I wanted to see how long I could go.  I’ve always considered myself an endurance athlete, I swam and ran distance throughout high school, and always felt fine at the end of a long workout, so this was my tool of measurement; it was a way for me to compare myself to others that consider themselves endurance athletes.  At the end of the event, when I begin to realize the magnitude of my accomplishment, I acknowledge that I reside with the few; I discovered that I would rather die than quit.

Spartan chick Margaret Schlachter aka Dirt in Your Skirt recently took part in the Death Race.  Her race ended before 24 hours, but she stuck around covering the event and she wrote three pieces about her experience on the mountain.  Her emotional journey began as an athlete trying to survive and ended as a volunteer helping facilitate the experience for those who would go the distance.

Part One: The Death Race

Part Two: Quitting

Part Three: Changing Sides

Part Three is jam packed with videos and media of those who remained in the race that Margaret spoke with and interviewed live on Ustream.  Check out her journey, her decision in the race, and her perceptions from the other side.  Check out her blog and keep following her journey in 2012!  We’ll see her at more upcoming Spartan events and you can follow her training and her finishes at www.dirtinyourskirt.com!  Next up for Margaret, the Utah Beast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Matt Davis

“Damn thing doesn’t stop till you break!”

-Al Pacino (as Walter Burke) in The Recruit.

Joe Desena and Andy Weinberg giving Commands

At first inspection, it looks like what transpires in the Death Race is designed to break you. Designed to find where you give up and fail on your commitment to finish. The race directors, Joe and Andy, appear to do everything they can think of to make this happen.

This includes, but is not limited to: telling you that you are disqualified, telling you (repeatedly) that you won’t ever finish, feeding others and not you, giving others a rest but not you, allowing others to do less work, giving you heavier objects to carry than others, make you do things twice, telling you others are quitting, telling you others are ahead of you and its hopeless to go on, telling you that you are almost finished-then give you another 6 hour task, deprive you of sleep for days, keep you away from your family and crew, the list goes on ad infinitum.

However, if you look deeper, what you will find is the opposite. What Joe and Andy really want is to see you finish. They want to be around people who are inspiring them because they won’t quit. They want to be next to people who dig so much deeper than the average human that it moves them.  When they find that chink in your armor and you finally say, “I’m done”, what happens is this. On the outside, they may smile and think “We got another one”, but deep down, they are sad because it means that they don’t get to see someone go beyond their breaking point, then go waaay past that, then go some more. They don’t get to see someone go be “powerful beyond measure”.

I got to be near Joe for part of Sunday and he talked about a particular racer. This man, a military veteran, approached Joe and said, “Excuse me sir. I am out of honor. I cheated at the race, then I lied about cheating”. I could tell how much it meant to Joe to have the event he created get into a person that deeply. This event that he developed was getting people that in touch with their own integrity and their own humanity.

Andy mentioned in a post race message how the Death Race is just a game that imitates life. What I think he means is how you show up at the Death Race is how you show up in life. Do your wife and kids easily irritate you? Do you cut corners at work when the chips are down? Do you walk away when you don’t get your way while playing sports?  Do you take ownership for your mistakes or blame others?

On my way out of town after the death race, I was asking myself these same questions.  Furthermore, I found myself asking: Am I ready to go to the next level and actually enter this event next time?  Well, I can safely say, I am not there…yet.

[Editor's Note: Guest Blogger Matt Davis is currently slated to take on the Spartan Ultra Beast in September.  He was on hand at the 2012 Death Race as crew and has provided a unique insight as to the unfolding of events of the longest Spartan Death Race to date.  We thank him for his contributions and look forward to seeing him on the Spartan Race Course going forward.]

by Joe Desena and Andy Weinberg, Race Directors, 2012 Spartan Death Race

Joe Desena and Andy Weinberg

Now that the dust has settled, the race has officially ended, results have been tabulated and distributed, and life in Pittsfield is returning to normal, we wanted to take a moment to offer our reflections on the 2012 Spartan Death Race: Year of Betrayal.  Like every year, this event was different than all the year’s before and there will never be another year like it.  That’s how we envisioned them when we started the event in 2005.  Like every year, there are some notable and heroic events to speak of, like at the 60 hour mark, when racer Mark Dibernardo, suffering extreme sleep deprivation and severe exhaustion, went off-course, requiring the race staff to scour the mountains and fields for hours in the pre-dawn hours Monday morning only for him to return to the race and ultimately finish the race’s final challenge.  Or the incredible story of Joei Harrison, who emotionally completed her final task to go on to be a finisher of the full course over the 67 hour mark, putting a poetic finish to the 2012 Spartan Death Race.   There were those who were told they would not and could not finish, after missing check-in times who forged ahead regardless earning themselves a skull for not counting themselves out and staying committed to what is ultimately the goal – to never quit.

Olof Dallner, 2012 Death Race Champion

What did Mark, Joei, and all the finishers of this year’s Spartan Death Race have in common? They didn’t quit, they simply wouldn’t.  Finishers are the type of people that can survive for a week in the woods, they are able to stay calm under stress, they are able to persevere with or without support, and they have a spiritual or personal quest that overrides reason as well as every obstacle in the path of rising to fulfill their goals.  The race is very unique and it’s unlike any other race on the planet.  Some people get that and some people don’t.  No matter how brutal the challenge, no matter how long or seemingly impossible the task was, there are people that quit and people that won’t.

The Spartan Death Race was designed to push and aggravate people to such a point that even the most stoic and composed will eventually fail. Only those people possessing incredible discipline under the most insane and even delusional circumstances can call themselves a finisher.  These athletes are willing to complete the journey at all costs.  Mohammed Ali used to say he was the best because he was willing to “die in the ring.”  The better athlete doesn’t necessarily win but the more determined one does.

As in past years, this year we have heard a thousand reasons why people quit during this event and most of them are completely logical and perfectly reasonable.  We, meaning Andy and myself (as well as the DR staff), are not primarily concerned about whether they finish or not, or what their reasons are; the only reason we do this is to get inspired by the people that prove themselves to be immovable objects and don’t quit in spite of all the logical and reasonable reasons not to.  They don’t quit under any circumstances.

Death Race finisher in 2011 and Canadian native Johnny Waite returned to Pittsfield this past weekend to tempt his fate against the Betrayal themed race that awaited him and all the others who sought a Death Race finisher skull.  He returned home this year without a skull but with perspective after battling nearly 35 hours on the brutalizing course.  Waite offered this paragraph detailing his experience:

“I elected to enter the 2012 Death Race by my own volition. I was promised that it would be harder and last longer than any previous DR.

Johnny Waite

I was also promised it would infuriate me and make me face and manage my own strong emotions. When I quit at 34 hours, that was also my own free choice. The organizers respected my decision, just as they respected the same decision made by the vast majority of racers (each for their own individual reasons) at all times throughout the race. In re-reading the race emails, and reflecting on the announcements made throughout the event, it is very clear to me that we were given all the information we required and that this was an unquestionably fair, albeit brutal, race. Everyone who finished pushed themselves for 60+ hours and honoured both themselves and the Spartan philosophy. Much respect to those who were able to master their body, mind and spirit and claim their DR 2012 skulls.”

From Andy and myself, and all of our incredible staff and volunteers, we would like to say congratulations to all the 2012 Death Race Finishers.

We are now left to wonder who will try their hand at the 2013 Death Race, it’s the Year of the Gambler.