by Matt Davis
“Damn thing doesn’t stop till you break!”
-Al Pacino (as Walter Burke) in The Recruit.
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.]