When it comes to equipment for working out with, one often overlooked item is the humble splitting axe. There are huge physical benefits of chopping wood and the obvious end product also being useful fuel, but which axe specifically should you choose for the task in hand?

In recent times, Fiskars have become immensely popular. Having that balance of being a good, sturdy axe along with being a reasonable price for what it offers, it’s understandable why so many choose it.

So let’s look closely at it.

The Fiskars axe is designed to be as effective as possible in one-strike chopping. What they have tried to do is get that perfect balance of power-to-weight ratio in the same way a baseball bat has. It comes with an extremely sharp blade with a low-friction coating on the head, so it’s ready for use as soon as you get it. Along the blade it has a bevel convex coming out of the head so that it pushes the wood away when splitting. Hence the fact it’s a “splitter”. As silly as it may sound, many people confuse a chopper with a splitter. Two different tools for different purposes. Make sure you understand the difference before you commit to buying!

One claim they make is that it has a “stronger than steel” Fibercomp handle that won’t break through overstriking, ie, missing the head and hitting the log with the handle. They go on to point out that the Permahead insert-molded axe head will not loosen or fly off. If you’ve ever attended the Spartan Death Race in Vermont, you’ll see a graveyard of broken Fiskar axe heads and handles. Now, whether this is through poor striking, bad aim or shoddy quality merchandise is up for debate. The art of chopping wood is something learned over a little time. Not many souls take instantly to picking up an axe and getting right into the groove. Another good thing about Fiskars is their lifetime warranty.

Something else you’ll get with the axe is the head/blade locking case for when it’s stored away when not in use. A nice touch.

Signup today for a Spartan Death Race or 12 hour Hurricane Heat at Spartanrace.com and don’t forget to bring your axe.

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by Carrie Adams

Limitless Living: Joe DeSena

All too often we spend our waking hours trying to find and stay comfortable in our own lives.  We look for short cuts, gadgets, and processes to make things easier, seeking what we consider personal fulfillment.   We believe that there are things we can do and things that we can’t, and we become conditioned to that distinction.  It creates our everyday reality and it makes us feel secure, because we think we know what to expect of the world and what to expect of ourselves.  Enter Joe DeSena, the man who will turn that world upside down.

Growing up in Queens, Joe’s mother valued healthy eating and living and passed on that value system to Joe.   It’s been well-documented that he worked hard growing up and ultimately got to Wall Street, where he made his mark and made himself a small fortune.  He moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont and quickly entrenched himself and his family in the local landscape.  Joe moved to Vermont in an attempt to get back to the way things used to be.

It’s also well-documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion.  His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone.  Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix.  (He once told me that my running a 26.2 marathon distance was “adorable.”)

To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week.  For those that don’t know or just don’t want to hear the gory details, the elevation climb for Badwater is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120’s.   Joe also rode cross-country to the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined “The Toughest 48 hours in sport.”  It’s no wonder his favorite quote is, “Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

In 2005, Joe decided that the world needed a new race, something that had never beendone. And so, together with Peak Races, he created The Death Race, a 24-hour mental and physical test filled with unknown obstacles.  Racers couldn’t and wouldn’t know what to expect.  The fear of the unknown would either break or motivate, and all they could do was try to survive.  The race waiver consists of three words: “I may die.” It doesn’t get any more real than that.  No way to train, no way to prepare, just show up and make it to the end.  And don’t expect any love from Joe or the volunteers.  They want to break these people, make them quit.  Joe’s been quoted as saying, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re basically holding your hand to help you quit. The same way life does, right?”

The winner of the fourth installment of the Death Race was Richard Lee.  Richard, Joe, and the other members of the “Founding Few” wanted to create another event, something that captured the extreme spirit of the legendary Death Race, but was modified and accessible to a much wider racing audience.  And so the Spartan Race was born.  Spartan intends to wake up the world up and save humanity, one racer at a time if need be.  It’s a race meant to challenge, to push, to intimidate, to test and even to break those brave enough to try, and it was designed by seven people who know what that feels like.  “Fun run” doesn’t apply here.  It’s about being uncomfortable, overcoming obstacles and finding out what’s possible when what you expect of yourself is everything.   In the words of Joe himself: “The phrase ‘I can’t’ doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, not because of my ego but because I know anything is possible.”

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by Carrie Adams

Creating an international obstacle racing series is not an easy task.  Logistics alone are enough to make it a dizzying headache of epic proportions.  The race venues crisscross the globe and span such long distances that there is a need for constant traveling, scouting, and having teams spread out over wide expanses of the world trying to find the best and baddest places to have the events.

You need course designers who are visionaries that look at the landscape and not only design but set up a course only to have it deconstructed days later. There’s the task of finding sponsors, determining and procuring materials to build the obstacles, finding volunteers to put them up, take them down, assist before, on, and after race day, and runners for the event itself.  There’s parking to manage, racers to get bibbed and chipped, to get fed post-race, and to keep entertained.  Before an event, you have to manage registrations, a constant barrage of questions, accounting paperwork, all just to get one event in the books.  The marketing, advertising, and pounding pavement to tell people your story and get people to show up on race day is an effort of epic proportions in and of itself!

But there is a whole other side to creating an international obstacle racing series.  It’s defining the spirit of the event, the very soul of what it will represent to the runners themselves who will struggle, fight, and claw their way through the miles and the tests that are put in front of them.  It isn’t about getting dirty, but you’ll get dirty.  It isn’t about having fun, but you will have fun. It isn’t about the costumes, the beer, and the after-party.  It’s about who you are when you run, and what is brought out of you when you falter, what you do when you want to give up, and how you feel when you finish.  It’s about what you have inside you to get you across that line.  How do you create something that changes a person so that they are better when they cross the finish line?

The Spartan Race was created by eight ultra-athletes.  It was created by people who have spent their lives redefining what’s realistic and finding out what’s possible by living lives without limits.

The Spartan Race was built on a code:

  • A Spartan pushes their mind and body to their limits
  • A Spartan masters their emotions.
  • A Spartan learns continuously.
  • A Spartan gives generously.
  • A Spartan leads.
  • A Spartan stands up for what they believe in, no matter the cost.
  • A Spartan knows their flaws as well as they know their strengths.
  • A Spartan proves themselves through actions, not words.
  • A Spartan lives every day as if it were their last.

Recently, we told the story of Richard and Selica, two of the initial founders of the Spartan Race.   You’ll be hearing all the stories of the founding few.  The originators of the Spartan Race who gave life to an idea but more importantly gave soul to a movement: living a life without limits.  You have one life to live, strive for greatness!

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by Carrie Adams

Kat Dunnigan isn’t the kind of woman you would have assumed was the “Death Race Type.”  Physically, she’s hardly imposing.  Barely 5′ 1”, she’s small, and her soft voiceon the phone, along with her contagious, bubbly laughter, hide her strength and toughness.

Raised in Portland, Maine, Dunnigan had an athletic family but didn’t really get into sports as a child or teenager.  She graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from SUNY Maritime and headed to NYU for law school.  At 28 she found herself wanting to do something more than just work, so she took up Karate, and after four years she earned herself a black belt.  It was a wakeup call for Kat that she wasn’t just working out and she had transformed into something bigger.

“When I saw myself as an athlete that changed my whole world,” she said in a recent interview.  Karate brought with it full contact tournaments, but it also brought burnout and she needed inspiration.  A ten month break found her in front of her TV watching an Ironman.  She felt the unmistakable feeling of fear in the pit of her stomach and in that moment she committed to doing an Ironman… but not some far off day in the future.  She wanted to do one in a year in France.  Her training started that day and hasn’t stopped.  Since 2006, she’s competed in an Ironman every year from France to Australia, Lake Placid to New Zealand and in four weeks she goes to St. George.

So, why the Death Race?  She’s proven herself an athlete and a consistent and formidable one but a year ago while strength training at Warrior Fitness Boot Camp Kat saw the webpage for the Spartan race and saw the link for The Death Race… you maydie.com.  She clicked on it. A familiar feeling rose in the pit of her stomach – the same feeling she got when she first watched the Ironman, fear that quickly turned into a rush of adrenaline and then resolve.  “I have to do this insane thing.”

She goes into the race with no pretentions.  She is doing the race for herself and her way. This event isn’t about her being the strongest physically.  She is admittedly not a natural athlete but she has no illusions about herself and she has a quick wit and self-deprecating sense of humor that she believes will help her survive the long hours.  Mentally, doing the Ironman has taught her how to find inner peace.  The race brings everyone to a place where they want to give up and they have to make the decision to move on.

Recently, she participated in Death Race camp and commented, “The one thing that is amazing is that your ego is put away and you are no longer worried about anything but that task at hand… it’s painful but it’s a peaceful place to be.  There is nothing left to do but put one foot in front of the other.  I can put one foot in front of the other.”

When she thinks about Death Race day she has only two fears – one of just being that tired and sleep deprived.  Two, she fears that she will miss time cut-offs and be pulled from the course.  “I’m okay with feeling like I’m behind, but I’d hate to be pulled in the middle.  I want to make it to the end.  I want to get the skull they hand out.” She laughs.  She wants to get herself through it.  “I want to feel like I have just come through the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”  They promised me that.

Kat doesn’t think of herself as a woman competing, she thinks of herself as an athlete competing.  She’s read about at least three women who have done it and finished at least once.  It opens the door for more women to give it a shot, women like her, and she’s grateful for the trails they have blazed.

This new chapter is a new challenge for a professional, working woman who found her inner athlete in her late 20’s.  The Karate gave her confidence, the Ironman gave her endurance, now she trains for strength and she brings her own brand to the table.  To stay motivated, to do it in the first place, she said it just clicked.  “The death race is just ‘find your inner crazy.’  It resonates with me.  I got a lot of inner crazy.”  She laughs and then pauses.  “ It brings things back to a place that’s very raw.”

Her training has combined endurance and strength – her Ironman mere weeks away, she views it as a training day, focusing more on the Death Race in June.  Her friends at Warrior Fitness Boot Camp are helping her get strong – weighted vest runs, stairs, intense cardio sessions and even a few words of wisdom for the journey.  Alex Fell, one of the Warrior Fitness owners told her – “Get amnesia…”  It’s about living in the moment completely.  If you have a bad race or you have a bad day, just forget it and move on.  If you have a good day, same thing, get amnesia and move on.  It’s just a day.  She laments with a laugh, “Most of my amnesia is about bad days.”  You can’t help but love her story, her drive, and her reasons.  She’s an inspiration for athletes, men and women, everywhere and we don’t think the Death Race will even slow her down.  By the way, did we mention Kat turns 40 next week?  Happy birthday, Kat… we’ll see you in June.

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