by Carrie Adams
Joe Crupi called me from Iraq today (Memorial Day) for a Death Race Profile Interview. About thirty minutes into our call he asked me calmly, “Can you hold on a second?” When he returned a few seconds later he said, “We are taking rounds right now, I gotta go.” It cut our interview short and served as a reminder that even as we remember those who have fallen there are still so many in harm’s way today.
Stationed in Iraq on a military base working as a civilian contractor Crupi, 28, spent his first two years as an intelligence analyst and ever since July 2010 he has been a trainer for the military in a role entitled, embedded mentor. He train analysts on how to use different computer systems to do their work.
Crupi is no stranger to being overseas. He spent six years in the Navy and completed a tour in Bosnia in 2005 and another in Afghanistan in 2006. He left for boot camp in September 2001. Two weeks after 9/11. He was at the point where he had graduated and was looking at doing the military reserves and going to college simultaneously. He signed up in August before September 11th and was planning on leaving February 14th so he could stay until his birthday. After September 11th he made a call requesting to leave earlier for boot camp. He was originally denied. But unexpectedly he received a return phone call on a Tuesday informing him that he could go sooner but it would be that Friday. He agreed.
Mustering up the courage, he told his parents of his decision. His father, ex-Navy understood why he was choosing active duty over college at this point in his life and why he was leaving earlier than originally planned, his mother was upset, “She cried,” he told me, but response was simply, “It’s time to go.”
As a civilian contractor, Joe has spent close to three years total in Iraq. He goes for several months at a time. This year he was there from September through December, then he came home for a few weeks returned in January and is scheduled to be there until June 18th where he will then participate in the Spartan Death Race a week later. His eight year old daughter will be the first person he sees when he gets home though, “She’s totally the coolest person on the earth, ok, so I’m biased.” he says.
He found the race while looking through Facebook one day and he was intrigued. The Death Race is one of the first handful of races Crupi has done. “Did the “Scramble in the Sand” in Baghdad a year or two ago, and then did some 15k once…but other than that, I’m a total virgin when it comes to this crazy-ass stuff.” He acknowledges that a lot of the other Death Race athletes do triathlons, marathons and ultra races . He explains, “Working out here for the majority of the last few years, I just don’t get afforded the opportunity to do that kinda stuff…though, once I get out of here, I totally am going to get more involved in different kinds of races. Just preparing for it feels like such a great thing…the people, the camaraderie, the motivation to strive and accomplish something. It’s a nice feeling, and one you can’t always get from sitting in an office all day.”
“I was at one of my other bases and then I was talking to some guys about the Death Race and how crazy it sounded and one of the guys who I was talking to said, ‘You couldn’t do that.’ I just looked at him.” Crupi thought about that comment for a few days before making the decision to do it. “To hell with it.” he said, “I can say I’m going to do it, or I can sign up, pay for it and be committed.” He’s also using his race as an opportunity to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project.
He trains as best he can in the gym and on the ground but doesn’t have a lot at his disposal. He often records his WOD’s on the Spartan Death Race Facebook page. He’s looking forward to the experience in Pittsfield, “I think deciding to do this race, and getting prepared for it, has led me to a life change…to want to do more physically challenging events and competitions in the future, and to push myself. Instead of always saying I’m going to do something someday, to start doing….Becoming a DOER, instead of a SAYER I suppose.”
Stay safe, Joe!