by Carrie Adams

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” -Oscar Wilde

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Ray Morvan

Recently, Spartan Race has been covering profiles of the awe-inspiring individuals taking part in the Spartan Death Race.  An endurance event like no other on the planet that has been taking place every year in Pittsfield since 2005.  It’s an event aimed at giving competitors the ultimate challenge in the Green Mountains of Vermont and an opportunity for those brave enough to sign up the chance to find themselves and redefine their lives in a backdrop of unforeseeable challenges.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to show that overcoming is worth the effort required to achieve it and being alive is a state of being where death is just a state of mind.

Ax in hand, Ray Morvan, now 48, hacked away at the stump in the ground for over an hour, using his hands at various points to dig and pry at the roots of the stubborn stump to extract it from the ground.  He’d removed his bib already that was previously pinned to it and now he worked at the stubborn, heavy stump expertly with his ax.  His reward for the task – to carry the heavy piece of wood for the rest of the day.  He would DNF that race at the 11 hour mark – his first attempt at the race in the summer of 2009.

In the winter race the following year, he was told to put together a wheel barrow and then cart 12 logs of firewood up the mountain in deep snow.  With no easy way to push the wheelbarrow in the drifts of snow, he had to improvise in order to navigate the trail with  the heavy logs and cumbersome wheelbarrow to reach the summit.  It was a daunting task.

This summer marks the fifth race for the veteran Death Racer, a mortgage banker from Springfield, VT.  His first attempt, he weighed in at just about 240 pounds and had recently left rehab for treatment of a drug and alcohol addiction.  He was admittedly not ready and when he left at the 11 hour mark, a spark had been ignited.  For a man who nearly died in 2002  from appendicitis and has endured more than a dozen abdominal surgeries since, he’s no stranger to death and he plans on competing in the race until they won’t let him anymore.

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By Carrie Adams

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Bryan Selm with his Death Race Finisher Skull, 2010

When I met Bryan Selm, 31, back in March for the Winter Death Race, he left an immediate first impression. In his distinctive Jersey accent (he denies having an accent), he was constantly joking and even admitted openly that he’d never been on snow shoes before.  That would be okay, except that a snow shoe marathon while carrying heavy blocks of wood and a loaded backpack of supplies was one of the first challenges he’d face. I figured that he wouldn’t last very long. As it turns out, I was wrong. Not only did he finish the Winter Race – in 22 hours 41 minutes– but I learned later that he had also completed the Spartan Death Race the previous summer with an impressive 10th place finish of 35 hours and 26 minutes.

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