by Carrie Adams
When Ray Morvan signed up for his first Death Race three years ago he was fresh out of rehab, had never done any triathlons or marathons of any kind, and weighed in at 240 pounds. He made it 11 hours before he dropped, but he was hooked. The Mortgage Banker, now 48, finished second in the following Winter Death Race but dropped again at the Summer Death Race in 2010 at the 30 hour mark. Undeterred he headed back to the treacherous mountains this last March for the 2011 Winter race finishing the race in right around 24 hours.
Of this summer event, the headlining Spartan Race event, he says, “I’m going to finish.” He has focused heavily on his training and nutrition to get there.
Going back to his first attempt in 2009, he recalls the first task of taking an ax and his gear and crawling to an open field of stumps with numbers pinned to them in no particular order. Participants were then told to find their bib number, remove it from the stump, and then hack the stump out of the ground. “Mine took an hour.” He says. “For some it took over three.”
They then had to then go up the river about 2 miles each way carrying the stump. “I try not to think of the distances, I just wait for somebody to tell me to turn around.” he says.
For a man who survived a crippling addition to drugs and alcohol, who nearly passed away from a ruptured appendix in 2002, and has endured over a dozen abdominal surgeries since, the Death Race represents something special and just having the chance to do it means more than any outcome. “It’s not about winning and losing – it’s about toeing the line and doing the best you can on that day.” He still struggles with abdominal issues. Two weeks after last year’s death race he received another abdominal surgery to fix five hernias. He has a 22 inch full abdominal scar for his trouble.
Morvan is also is deeply supportive of Peak Races, the ultra racing circuit and sister
company to Spartan Race and Peak Race Director Andy Weinberg. On June 4th and 5th, the same weekend as the Tuxedo, New York Spartan Sprint, Peak has their annual Peak’s 53 Mile Ultra Trail Marathon. It’s a point to point race on a beautiful course – in the Green Mountain National Forest for 42 of the course’s 53 miles. It’s remote and rugged and training is intense.
Morvan is emphatic, “I tell people, if you truly want to see an incredible group of athletes you need to go to a Peak Event. That’s inspiring.” Morvan’s wife and children are also a major support system. They keep him going so he continues to happily persevere. “I’m not built for speed but I can go on forever. You can figure out a way to do it if you choose to. We make the decision to do it or not. Generally, I have a smile on my face.”
Ray hopes to always be a part of the Death Race community. He’s already a well-known fixture and intends on keeping it that way. “Oh, I’m going to show up and do it for as many days as I have to until somebody tells me I have to stop. I will continue doing these until someone tells me I can’t. I love it.”