by Carrie Adams
There isn’t a common death racer type. Collectively, they are often called crazy, but crazy comes in many colors when it comes to Death Race competitors. The more that I talk with the athletes, the more I realize that each one is chasing their own dreams, or in some cases, demons. Their training, background, and expected outcomes are all different, and their stories offer insight into what drives these athletes to take their lives into their own hands at the Vermont Death Race in June.
John Sweeney, 32, is a research associate for an investment management company in Cambridge, MA. He might strike you as just a regular guy, because, well he is. He’s not an Ironman. He did run a marathon once, but it’s been a few years. He registered for the Death Race in Vermont last September after running a Spartan Race last summer with his wife. Now, John is drawing attention to himself (link the an article ) running all over town with heavy lumber and a weighted back pack.
John attended Death Race Camp last weekend – the lone camper. No one else was brave enough to join him. He said, “I didn’t know what to expect, so I read Johnny Waite’s post and I got an email from Matt that said, “Bring your road bike and plan on being gone for a few days.’” He laughs. “So I was, you know, apprehensive…”
John’s first day of camp was monumental. How did it start? With a 30-mile run. Not a big number for ultra-athletes maybe, but his longest run of late was less than five miles. For those of you doing the math, he had a marathon’s distance in between to cover. “In my training, I was more focused on speed and power – not long distance. It was the most I had ever run in my life. But this was Death Race Camp, you do a 30 mile run and that’s just your warm-up, right?” Indeed. His next task was running 1,000 feet up a mountain, retrieving a 100-pound BBQ pit, and hauling it back down the mountain. His partner in that effort was none other than resident ultra-distance athlete Jason Jaksetic (aka the Barn Beast), another Death Race hopeful.