by Carrie Adams
The Death Race Profile series has highlighted some amazing athletes so far. There are 13 female Death Racers signed up for the event in June and Lisa Madden is one of them. We’re proud to tell her amazing story and of all she’s accomplishing.
Lisa Madden, 38, moved to the Bronx eleven years ago for a change in scenery and says she “hasn’t felt the need to move since… or yet.” The architect from Ireland grew up horseback riding and hating running. As an adult, she ultimately found affection for endurance athletics and has been running trails and marathons for six years now. An avid hiker who loves being in the woods all day, she does about an event a month, some 50K and 50 miler distances, and one 100 miler each year. She’s looking forward to her time at the Death Race again in June.
Last year’s Death Race marked her longest time out on a race course, clocking in at 35 hours 23 minutes and an impressive 9th place finish. She credits her ability to handle the pain with her success last year: “You figure, you know, you have a capacity for suffering, so even if you take on something really challenging, it’s a willingness to suffer and get through what you’ve taken on.”
She signed up for the Death Race because it seemed like the ultimate challenge and she said, laughing, “I just went and signed up for it without knowing what it would be like. It seemed to be a completely unknown challenge.” The combination of not knowing what to expect, the hiking, and no sleep appealed to her.
“Pushing the limit and that envelope more to find my limits and the challenge of the unknown is fun for me,” she said. Lisa strives to have fun at these grueling events but it comes effortlessly to the upbeat athlete who still seems surprised by what she and the other competitors accomplished last year. “I mean I look back on it as a stranger and see what I did. I can’t believe we all did that. But when you’re in it you’re just in the moment and you just keep going.”
What makes a successful Death Racer? “Having patience is important,” says Madden. “The people in front were out to win it, but I just had no idea how to pace myself. I was taking my time and it avoided any frustration issues.” For managing the stress of the race, Madden turns to rock climbing saying, “It’s perfect for stress management because you just can’t panic. You have to stay calm.” She ran her race and completed her goal of finishing and finishing with a smile. Her goals this year are to stay humble and learn her prior lessons but approach this race, “Like a Virgin.”
She also plans on coming with more food! “My drop bag at the farm I packed for like I would an ultra of 24 hours, not 36. I’ll have more supplies with me and hopefully move a bit faster.” She expects the race to be even more challenging this time around, “There are so many alumni back this year and so it has to be ramped up.”
Madden doesn’t race to escape her life, in fact, she sees it as a natural part of her work/life balance. “I love my job.” She says, “My recreation is play. Fitting it all in… enjoying everything I do professionally and recreationally. And work funds my race fees and travel!”
Last year, Madden admits, “I just wanted to survive. Humor and patience and the camaraderie was wonderful but I just wanted to survive.” This time around she’s training hard but taking it all in stride as shown in this recent CBS interview.”
“We’ll see what happens this year… I can’t wait to get there!”