Monday, August 1, 2011

Carma’s Corner: Death Race

A couple weeks ago, the news anchor on Nightline stated, “There are three types of beings who will run themselves to death: dogs, horses, and humans.” I was not surprised by this statement; I have heard instances where dogs and horses have run until dropping dead—and, as for humans, it is not uncommon to run ragged, figuratively until death. However, the news anchor was not speaking figuratively; he was talking literally in which numerous individuals participate in the annual The Spartan Death Race.

How bad can it be? It’s just a race! Well, the death race makes RAGBRAI look like a cake walk; it makes the Tour de France look like a Sunday afternoon joy ride… and the Boston Marathon?? Phew… nothing more than a leisurely jog!! What exactly is The Spartan Death Race? According to the web page, “This is the highest level of Spartan Challenge. The Spartan Death Race is designed to present you with the totally unexpected, and the totally insane! This endurance race is comprised of mud runs, obstacle racing, physical challenges, and mental challenges all in a +48 hour adventure race.” Doesn’t sound too horrible yet, right? Oh, did I forget to mention that participants are not allowed sleep, have no knowledge of the obstacles to be completed, and not told where/when the finish will be??

The death race was created in 2007 and takes place in Pittsfield, Vermont. The race’s capacity is limited to 200 applicants, and all have to sign a fatality waiver upon registration. The race has an average recorded completion rate of 10 percent. This year’s race began on Friday, June 24, at 6 p.m. and lasted until 3p.m.on Sunday, June 26—45 hours. The race required participants to complete more than a dozen challenges through the central Vermont woods. The details only get better from here!

Challenge One: dead-lift 100,000 pounds worth of stones over a six-hour period without stopping!

Challenge Two: hike upstream in 45-degree waters… after getting out of the water, carry a candle for a quarter-mile—if the flame goes out, do it over again. Regardless, the task has to be repeated seven times!

Challenge Three: pick out a three foot, 40 pound tree stump and carry it around for more than 24 hours, including a nine-hour hike to the top of a mountain. At the top of the mountain, participants receive several Bible verses to memorize and are required to recite the verses at the bottom of the mountain.

Have I lost anyone yet? No? Keep going then! Other challenges included carrying a 10-gallon bucket filled with water for 2.5 miles without spilling—if spilled, start over. After more than 40 hours into the race, participants were given a 166-question test to recall information given to them at the beginning of the race and throughout the course. Of the more than 150 who applied from 29 states and Canada, only 35 individuals survived the 2011 Spartan Death Race. Their prize package included: Spartan Death Race jacket (on completion), Spartan Death Race Finisher Medal, weeks of pain after the event, and the entitlement to be called a True Spartan (Gold Level).

By now, the overwhelming question may be… WHY? Why would people willingly volunteer for such torture? Why would anyone subject a body to such hardship? I do not have the answers. One participant who survived put it this way: “It’s unexplainable. When he announced it, it was sheer exhilaration. Then I had a moment where I thought, ‘I did it.’ It’s a life-changing experience. It puts things into perspective… you can move mountains if you really put your mind to it.”

So… there it is! Is anyone interested in enlisting in the 2012 Spartan Death Race? I don’t know; I’m considering it… I’ll be happy if I survive the registration process!!

For more information on The Spartan Death Race, visit the official web page at