by Rachel Stuppy and Carrie Adams

295713_251314814902327_100000714315848_838174_6096306_nAs you have heard, Hurricane Irene, the storm that threatened to cause major damage to the east coast, from the Carolinas to the Cape, took an unprecedented turn for the worst  – flooding the roads, damaging, and destroying the homes of thousands of east coasters. Who would’ve thought that the tail end of the storm would have created more damage to Vermont, than when it was a Class 3 hurricane hitting the beaches of North Carolina? The images are shocking and even more so, when they are taken from a place you call home.

The towns and communities who were hit hard by Irene need your help and we are graciously asking you for it!

Vermont is home to the Green Mountains, some of the most beautiful lakes in the country, and the world leader of obstacle races. Not only is Pittsfield, VT the home of the Spartan Death Race, it is also where Spartan Race’s HQ are located.   Our friends and family live, work and train here. And it feels as if it was yesterday that many of them were here for the Spartan Beast race that was held in Killington.  Killington’s terrain and our race directors provided our athletes with one of the most remarkable courses we have had to date!  It was a unique race and our athletes are already trying to sign up for next years! Unfortunately, the town is a mess and the lodge where the Killington Beast was, no longer stands.

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Photo: Facebook/Luke Small

As you can see, the lodge at K1, where a thousand Spartans earned their green medal, collapsed due to the effects of Hurricane Irene.  The Pickel Barrel, where hundreds of athletes gathered with their turkey legs and celebrated their completion of the BEAST, has suffered flooding. The bridges up and down Route 100 have collapsed, making it impossible to travel through the heart of the Green Mountains, by car or by foot. In fact, Pittsfield has become an island because of the destroyed bridges, entering and exiting the town line.  The destruction of the bridges in Pittsfield has made the town unreachable, for there is absolutely no way to get in or out, except by helicopter!  In fact, one of these collapsed bridges was located just outside of our office.

According to an article in the New York Times:

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Killington, VT

Because of the limited ground transportation options in the state, the Air National Guard deployed helicopters Tuesday to transport supplies to hundreds of residents who had been stranded in the 13 towns since Sunday.

Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management, said the National Guard was ferrying in food, water, medicine, blankets, diapers, baby formula and tarps. Most of the towns have no electricity, and none has potable water because floodwaters have overwhelmed sewage and water treatment plants in the area.

“I think it’s probably a very scary thing to not know when you can get out of town and to have a water system that’s not working and a general store that has run out of bottled water,” Mr. Bosma said. “People are extremely nervous about being isolated.”

Mr. Bosma said each town would be responsible for determining how to distribute the supplies they are receiving.

“We are getting the assets out as fast as we can,” he said.

The 13 towns that had been isolated are: Cavendish; Granville; Hancock; Killington; Mendon; Marlboro; Pittsfield; Plymouth; Rochester; Stockbridge; Strafford; Stratton; and Wardsboro.

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Photo from Joe DeSena, Spartan Race Owner

These towns and communities are devastated by Hurricane Irene and they need your attention!  We are getting reports that the people trapped inside Pittsfield are coming together to try to rebuild the town from the ground up.  They have been meeting every day at 7am for a town meeting, taking head counts, and are trying to make sure everyone is safe and accountable for.  They have come together and are trying to rebuild the roads and bridges by hand!  It is a beautiful thing to hear how the people have come together, to ensure the survival of others and to rebuild a town that once was.  However, they are still desperate need of your help!

Stories are emerging of harrowing acts of selflessness to get people what they need.  This video shows The Williams River flooded Route 103 in Rockingham, Vermont.  The closed road left the towns separated and without aid.  This horseback rider rode through the flood water to deliver a bag of medicine, and then went back across.

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Photo from Joe DeSena, Spartan Race Owner

We have received an overwhelming response from our racers to help restore the town,where it all started!  People from all over the world have been expressing that they are willing to offer their time, energy and hands to rebuild our town. We are extremely grateful and we would love to organize a time where all of the Spartans to race to rebuild Vermont!

We will keep you posted about the situation of the home of Spartan Race! Thank you for thinking about us! Stay safe!

Here are several other ways you can help.

Information on donations from http://7d.blogs.com

DONATIONS

  • Text FOODNOW to 52000 to donate $10 to Vermont Foodbank. The Foodbank will turn each donation into $60 for families in need.
  • You can donate to the United Way’s Vermont Disaster Relief Fundonline, or buy sending a donation to your local United Way. Just make sure your donation is marked for the “Vermont Disaster Relief Fund”.
  • You can also donate to the American Red Cross of Vermont and the New Hampshire Valley. The Red Cross set up shelters immediately after Irene hit for flooded-out families to stay in.
  • The VT Irene Flood Relief Fundis raising money to help people and communities affected by flooding. 100% of all donations will be distributed to businesses and families. The fund is being administered by Todd K. Bailey.
  • Vermont Baseball Tourshas set up the 8/28 Fund to raise money. Donations of $20 or more get you a cool t-shirt.
  • The MRV Community Fundhas been reestablished to help Mad River Valley farmers who saw devastating crop losses due to the flooding.
  • Independent Vermont Clothingis selling a special “I’m With VT” t-shirt. All profits from sales of the shirt will go to relief efforts.
  • Across the lake, upstate New York got hit hard by Irene, too. Donations are being coordinated on the Irene Flood Drive Facebook page.

VOLUNTEERING

  • VTResponse.comis working to connect volunteers ready to help with those that need assistance. If you want to help clean up and rebuild, let the folks behind this site know.
  • Montpelier Aliveis coordinating volunteer efforts in that city through their Facebook page.
  • Volunteer and cleanup efforts are also being coordinated on Twitter via the #VTresponse hashtag.
  • The Vermont Flooding 2011 page on Facebookis functioning as a community bulletin board of sorts.
  • Vermont Helping Handsis also coordinating relief efforts via Facebook.
  • The Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations. Stop by their donation center at 32 North Prospect Street in Burlington, or the Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital Blood Donation Center at 125 Mascoma Street in Lebanon, NH.

OTHER INFO

  • If you need assistance or information from the state, dial 211 or visit vt211.org.
  • The Help VermontFacebook group is another place to share recovery information.
  • Sublet.com will provide free access for people who are displaced from their homes. Call their customer service line at 1-877-367-7368 for more information.
If you’d like to help on the ground in Pittsfield, please email carrie@spartanrace.com.  Access to town is nearly impossible and supplies are in short supply so volunteers will be welcome in a couple weeks.  Right now donations are preferred.

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by Carrie Adams

The Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont ended last Sunday, June 26th at 3 PM in the small church where it started ending the race after 45 hours.  Only 35 were left standing.

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Here is the official list of finishers for 2011:

“Congrats to everyone who showed up to participate in the 2011 Death Race. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. I enjoy spending time with inspiring people and you all fit that mold. Special Congrats to the 35 athletes who were able to finish, 45 hours into the race.   Well done!”  –  Andy Weinberg

1 Joe Decker
2 Jeff Foster
2 Bruce Foster
4 Grace Cuomo Durfee
5 Don Schwartz
6 Nickademus Hollon
7 Ryan Leveille
8 PJ Rakoski
9 Josh Zitomer
10 Andrew Haas
10 David Harwood
12 Dennis Lesniak
13 Travis Buttle
14 Lisa Madden
15 Sean Dickson
15 Jon Weiler
17 Ian James
18 Mark Harrison
19 Mark Jones
20 Frank Fumich
20 John Wall
20 Dan Bayer
23 Eric Ashley
24 Matt Robinson
25 Jack Cary
26 Reed Costello
27 Megan Mays
28 Robin Crossman
29 Vu Tran
30 Patrick Walsh
31 Bryan Murphy
32 Rebecca Hansen
33 Joe Crupi
34 John Waite
35 Ray Morvan

So what is in store for next year’s race?  We’ll be waiting in earnest.  We do already know next year’s theme.  2012 is the year of BETRAYAL.

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[Editor’s Note: The Death Race that began on June 24, 2011 is a monumental part of the Spartan Race history.  The athletes are phenomenal individuals and the volunteers and crew for the event are second to none. It defines the spirit of our racing series.  Several segments will be released on this year’s epic race including official results.]

by Carrie Adams

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like…” –Thoreau

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Death Race Headquarters Amee Farm

Rain broke through the thick overhead branches of the mountainside forest and the steep, gnarly trail was overrun with mud.  Run-off plummeted down the rocks making every step unsure and dangerous.  Shielding my eyes from the rain, I looked skyward and sighed.  Eighteen hours into the race, we hadn’t yet reached the halfway point of the trail up to Roger’s Farm for the next task.  Serving as crew for a few friends, I had ventured out on the course and was experiencing firsthand the level of difficulty the racers were enduring.  I was beginning to wonder if we’d get out and back before dark.

Blazing out of the dark woods below us in what became a trademark red bandana came Grace Cuomo Durfee, who would ultimately get a fourth place overall finish.  She was just one of four women to complete the grueling challenge.  As she returned from the checkpoint, she graciously offered, “Not too much farther guys.  It’s steep,” before charging up.  It was hard to understand how much had happened in the past 18 hours and how much lay ahead of the racers in the 2011 Spartan Death Race.

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by Carrie Adams

[Editor's note: In just 12 hours, Jason Jaksetic, Spartan's legendary Barn Beast, begins the 150-mile McNaughton Ultra in Pittsfield, VT run by Spartan's sister company Peak Races.  Stay tuned to the blog, twitter, and facebook for live updates.]

Stumbling in the barn at 2:15 A.M. March 7, 2011 after 62 hours of effort, Jason Jaksetic had accomplished his mission: 100 miles on snow shoes in the books after 30 days of training.  Thus was born the Barn Beast.  Defying the naysayers and the experts, he accomplished the seemingly impossible–but that’s nothing new to this alternative athlete.  To Jason, there is no such thing as “normal.”

As a boy growing up in Stanhope, NJ, no one would have thought that the self-proclaimed “band dork” would become the athlete he is today.  As a traveling musician who both performed and taught, Jason didn’t enter his first long distance event until age 22.  With no training, he was immediately in over his head.  His first event was the esteemed Boston Marathon.  But there was a catch: he entered on a dare, he ran it bandit (and for you who always follow the rules, that means you crash the event and run the course), and still managed a 4:20 finish.  He’d previously never run more than four miles at one time.

Boston was the catalyst, and Jason wanted more.  Setting his sights on the Ironman, he got serious about training, and completed five Ironman events in two years.  At age 24, he qualified for Kona with a 10:23 finishing time in Lake Placid.  Jason seemed on the fast track and trained hard for a big showing in the Louisville Ironman in 2010.  Then, during a long training run, Jason felt a slight hitch in his hip.   Alarm bells went off in his head, but he dismissed them, not realizing that at that moment that he had suffered a stress fracture.

No injury could stop him.  He planned to destroy the Louisville swim and bike and then get through the marathon as best as possible given the hip injury.  The swim went well, but after pounding the bike for 70 miles, Jason bonked.  At mile 101, he woke up in an ambulance suffering from what appeared to be cardiac arrest due to exhaustion and dehydration.  This, his first DNF, weighed far heavier on his mind than on his body.  He escaped to Swaziland, Africa to reevaluate his training, his goals, and his expectations.  In the airport, he found a passport belonging to Joe Desena, owner of Spartan Race.  It was a turning point.

Not long after, Jason impulsively packed up and moved into the training facility, aka “the Barn,” in Pittsfield, VT, to work for Joe and to train for several ultra-distance races, including the infamous Death Race.  Abandoning his militant Ironman training style, he adopted a more non-traditional approach in the rugged mountains just outside his back door.

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