Death Race Resurrection. (Part 1/2)

 It’s back.

March 11, 2018. I was with my friend Ashley driving home from Greek Peak NY. We had headed up there 2 days prior for a little Hurricane Heat fun in the snow. Now I was on my way to work. It had to be about 6am when my friend Nate texted me. He didnt say anything, it was just a link. I opened it.


I screamed “OH MY GOD.” Ashley looked at me and asked “What is it?”
“Death Race is back.”
I wanted to do it. OF COURSE I wanted to do it. But I hesitated.
Am I ready? There’s no way I’m ready. But it’s back, I HAVE TO.
The page said you had to qualify, only 100 will be allowed in. I mentioned it to my coworker Lauren, she seemed to think I was a shoe-in, I wasn’t so certain. I bounced the idea around with friends, they all said go for it. I discussed it with my boyfriend, and he was super supportive. By the end of the night, I anxiously filled out the registration form. Suddenly, there was an eventbrite email in my inbox with an order summary titled “Peak Death Race 2018.”
What the fuck did I just do?
The rules were you had to do an event to qualify. There were a few qualifying events: Spartan Agoge, Peak Bloodroot Ultra, etc… I didn’t meet any of the qualifications, so I sent an e-mail to Joe De Sena, begging him to let me in. I stressed about it for a couple weeks and thought, it’s limited, maybe I wont even get in. The idea soothes my mind. I actually liked the idea that I probably wouldnt get in. Atleast I took a shot.
Well, Fuck me.
For months, I was stressed out. Unbearably stressed out. I wasn’t entirely new to endurance events, but my longest event ever was 20 hours, and I knew Death Race had a reputation of going several days. So why did I register? For those of you who don’t know, the last DR was back in 2015. Everyone thought it was gone forever. I would listen to stories from Death Racers in the past and it was like listening to endurance racing mythology. I was captivated by all the stories. All the people who finished were my role models. They were the kind of people I aspired to be. I had to try. I didn’t feel like I really had a choice. In my heart it wasnt debatable, despite my nerves about my perceived inability to compete.
I spoke to my supervisor at work, that was fun trying to explain. The conversation went something like…”Sooo I’m doing a multi-day endurance race in Vermont. But the website says July 11- August 31, and I dont know when it’s actually gonna be, but I need off work.” Her reaction: “What do you mean they havent told you when? They have to tell you, people have work and commitments.” Me: “It’s the Death Race, they dont care about us.” Her: “I dont understand.”
We had a few convos like that. I told her I would keep her posted on what I knew, and she said she was gonna make sure I got the time off. Lot’s of questions started coming from my coworkers. How long is it? What do you have to do? My inability to answer questions flustered them. They couldnt wrap their heads around the idea that I was voluntarily signing my life away to spend a few days in the woods where I could be told to do literally anything. They eventually brushed it off though, my coworkers are used to me doing crazy things. They just dont understand how deep the rabbit hole goes.
We periodically got emails from Peak telling us we need to constantly pay attention. “The race has already begun.” They were already taunting us. They made us post videos, answer questions. Just things to keep us on our toes. I frequently checked my email for any updates.
I started getting questions from random people, even people who do Spartan Races. How are you preparing? Are you nervous? I didnt want to answer the questions. I was stressed. Believe it or not, I was trying NOT to think about Death Race. There were atleast 5 occassions I seriously debated dropping out. I swear the demons in my mind are my worst enemy in life. My boyfriend Mike would probably tell you I debated dropping out once a week. He would probably be right. He couldn’t make heads or tails of whether I was going or not from one moment to the next.
So… prep. Initially, I didn’t honestly change my exercise routine at all. In fact, you could say I exercised less. A recent car accident left me without a vehicle and slightly injured. I had to quit crossfit to afford payments on a new car. Quitting crossfit left me out of my routine and depressed. As someone who relies heavily on fitness as an outlet for stress, It was a downward spiral that seemed to have no end. On April 23, I got fed up with myself and reached out to Rob Barger, a Spartan Krypteia who took on clients under his LLC Redpath Performance Group. I knew Rob from doing Hurricane Heats and his response to my recent laziness was “Quit feeling sorry for yourself and DO WORK.” Exactly what I needed, a swift kick in the ass. Rob set me up with a training plan, and though I occasionally fell off, I was back to a conistant training regimine, with just under 3 months till Death Race. Also, as a past DR finisher, I can tell you that phone calls with Rob were a huge help getting my head in the game.
As the date got closer, my friends started dropping like flies. It made me nervous. They sent me messages explaining their reasons for not going, and I understood all too well where they were coming from. I wanted to bail too. I really did. Finally, about 2 weeks prior to the Race, even with my anxiety at an all time high, I finally made up my mind. I was going. I had to try, no matter what.
The fourth of July, a holiday most people spend eating, drinking, celebrating. Peak finally sent us our gear list, along with some rules. One rule that concerned me: No parking at Riverside Farm or on any road in Pittsfield. Great, where the hell am I supposed to leave my car? The registration address is in Chittenden. I looked up directions and realized it’s 20 something miles from the farm. Instantly I knew, we were hiking those 20 miles to start the Race. Nerves build once again. 20 miles right away. I knew I would be thinking about the race all day. Guaranteed that’s what the race directors wanted. Another rule: Any gear found not to be on the list will be taken. Any gear on the list not present may be reason for DNF. My obsessive list checking ensued for the next week. I carried the index cards with me everywhere, as well as a scrap index card I periodically wrote notes on.
So here’s the gear list:20180803_144709


Of course, I knew I would need much more than that to race, so my non-mandatory gear list is even longer

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The whole week I was running around like a maniac between REI for last minute items, and Staples to re-laminate the gear lists I keep modifying. One day I spent 2 hours drawing and color coding a map from Chittenden to Pittsfield so I didn’t get lost if we had land navigation, and the lamination wiped the color off the map. I nearly start crying at Staples from anxiety. That’s when I decided my list was finished, and whatever will be will be.
On July 10, they gave us additional gear list items. Back to Staples to laminate the new gear list.

The night before the race I saw people all over social media posting they were up in Vermont. My excitement peaked. I commented on Mike Raedy’s post and he messaged me to let him know when I was up there. I wokeup at 10am the morning of the Race and started my drive up to Vermont. A good chunk of the car ride I give myself a pep talk.
Don’t think about the past. Don’t worry about what you coulve done differently. Don’t worry about your weaknesses. It is game time, there is nothing to be done but the task in front of you. Be strong. Don’t quit. You can do this. You will work until you cant move anymore.
When I was close I messaged Mike, and he gave me the address to the house he was staying in. When I pulled up he was being interviewed in front of the house. I walked inside not wanting to disturb the interview, and found it very quiet. Pretty much everyone was napping. I plopped myself on the floor and started stretching. Eventually everyone woke up and gave me big welcoming hugs. I knew half the people in the house thanks to Spartan Endurance events. Mike came inside and showed me a note Race Director Don Devaney left on their fridge reading “QUIT NOW.” A few people told me they heard a rumor Guinness was here to film a world record attempt. A short while later Spartan’s instagram account posted a photo: “Would you rather run 26.2 miles or crawl 26.2 miles under barbed wire?” with the Death Race logo at the bottom of the photo. The energy in the house was palpable.
I was obsessing over my sandbag. All month I had been checking my weight, and I was teetering on the edge of 150lb. One day I was 148, the next I was 151. Ugh. The gear list called for a 35lb sandbag at <150lb bodyweight, and 45lb  if 150-175lb. So for my sandbag I prepared a 35lb, and a 10lb, both which fit inside the larger bag I would carry them in. I had hoped I could drop the 10 and stick with the 35, but as I weighed myself in the house, I was 150 on the nose. Unsure of what would happen at check-in, I opted to stay with my bag at 45lb.
Rob showed up to the house to say hello. He told a couple old Death Race stories. One particularly funny one about how they were once presented with 2 busses and told to choose. He chose the 2nd bus because it had a bathroom on it. The bus he didnt choose drove to do some tedious farm chores, while his bus was driven to NYC to go on a scavenger hunt. He told us they were all wearing tyvek suits and someone commented they looked like a cult. Ah, the strange tales of death race’s past. We were all getting pretty excited. Rob hung around for a while, we all took a group photo, and he went on his way. At 9:30 pm, we all jumped into our cars and started the drive to registration.


 Welcome to the Death Race

On Wednesday July 11th at 10 pm, 62 participants showed up to Mountainside Bible Church in Chittenden VT. We parked our cars in the field and slowly filed into the church to register for the 2018 Death Race. We turned in our Id’s, car keys, and $106.48 (10 $10, 1 $5, and 148 pennies). We were given our bibs, mine 039.
The number had a special place in my heart, and I appreciated being given it. Back in November 2017 I participated in A 12 Hour Hurricane Heat in New Jersey, HH12HR 039. Rob led the event along with Antonio Tovar and the help of Alex Stavdal, another past Death Race finisher. That particular 12 hour lasted 14.5 hours and had some particularly death-racey aspects to it. At the end of the event, Rob gave a few of us old Death Race Gambling chips, from the 2013 Death Race, Year of the Gambler. When we asked him if this was a hint it was coming back, he said no, but stated he thought if it did, we could finish it. My 039 bib reminded me of the chip and Rob’s faith in us. To me, the bib solidified my place in this event.
When I headed out of the church, Don Devaney instructed me to start chopping and stacking wood, in silence. We all did so for 90 mins as we waited for everyone to check in. Once a truck had been filled, we went inside the church for our pre-race meeting.


Race director Robin Crossman informed us of a recent tragedy involving a boat engine explosion in the Bahamas that killed 1 person, and left 9 injured. He told us one family on the boat was from Pittsfield, and that a 22 year old aspiring dancer was currently in a coma and had to have both of her legs amputated. Our money would go to her and the family. Over the course of our time in the woods, we were later informed she had waken from the coma.
A few simple rules and regulations were gone over and then we went outside and were told to hold our axes straight out in front of us at shoulder height. The first 10 to drop their axes would be pulled aside and tagged. So here’s some info behind the tag. On our gear list was 4 3×5 orange index cards that stated ” Apparently I wast ready.” 4 cards would mean elimination. I was the 8th person to drop my axe, and was tagged on one of the first tasks of the race. Off to a great start. Looking back at the remaining participants in the challenge, I noticed many with bent arms, or not holding their axes shoulder level. I was a little peeved, thinking I could’ve stayed in if I hadn’t been honest, but I wasn’t gonna let it bother me.

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Ok, time to move out. There was a giant generator on the lawn in front of the church. It was rigged to some wood and poles making it look like a chariot. They called it the Arc. The Arc had a long extension cord attaching it to an enormous digital clock set to 14 hours. the clock was also attached to wood and poles. The Directors said us the arc weighed 500lb, I beg to differ, it was much heavier than that. Im not sure what the clock weighed, but I’m thinking somewhere around 300lb. We were told to pick up the enormous structures (along with our packs and sandbags) and move out. We had 14 hours to get ourselves and this clock to Riverside Farm. We picked it up and started moving. Very slowly. We had to keep rotating people on and off the weight, no one ever felt like they had gotten enough rest before they were back on it. People were getting frustrated and arguing. Some were spending too much time off the weight. We were not working as a team. To make matters worse, we were in the streets of Chittenden, which has a noise ordinance after 10pm, and a neighbor had already complained to the town prior to the race about expecting us to keep the noise down. Yet there we were well after midnight carrying a giant clock and arguing in the middle of the road.


I struck up a conversation with my friend Charlie, who was visibly struggling with a limp. He told me he showed up to the church at 8:30pm and had been chopping wood for a couple hours before the rest of us arrived. He had a previous IT Band injury, and I was worried about him, but he told me with confidence that if he had to leave, he was just happy he showed up. After a couple hours of struggling with the arc, the medic came over and told me Charlie succumbed to his injury. Knowing my friend was out immediately started to toy with my mind, but I pressed on. After a few more dropped, the directors eventually let us put down the arc. They made sure to tell us they had fully intended for us to carry it all the way to the farm, but we simply weren’t moving quickly enough. We were warned by staff we were about to head into the woods and it would be difficult to get us out safely if we were injured. We were instructed to drop out now if we felt we couldn’t make the trip. None of us budged, and we headed into the woods to take Bloodroot over to the farm.
Steep hills left us all sweating bullets on what would be the coldest night of the race, somewhere around 55 degrees F. The hike felt like it went on forever. I periodically noticed a girl wearing sandals, with her hair down hiking with us. I wasn’t sure if she was staff or a racer, but I leaned towards staff because who shows up to DR in sandals. Still, she was hiking with us, and she had a pack. She was wonderfully cheerful and kept singing peaceful songs about nature. I eventually mentioned her to my friend Yvette, who told me it was Sefra, and she did the Spartan Up Podcasts. Yvette talked her up like crazy and I knew it was justified given that I could already feel her uplifting energy after only having spent a short while hiking with her. I can say without a doubt Sephra’s light hearted spirit helped me tremendously throughout the event.


Eventually, we were told to crawl over a good chunk of Bloodroot. I attached my sandbag to the hip belt on my ruck and dragged it between my legs as i crawled. I let the bag be pulled behind me on the uphills, and turned around to crawl backwards with the sandbag in front of me on the downhills. When we reached a creek, we were instructed to get into the water and make a human dam till the water was 6 inches over the rocks. All of us piled together tightly cuddling in the freezing stream. We were not getting the water levels high enough, and now that it was morning and the noise ordinance was lifted, Don was yelling at us to get the job done. Someone’s genius led them to throw their Camelback bladder on top of a rock and claim it was water 6 inches high. Don accepted it, and we were finally allowed out of the water.


We continued our hike over Bloodroot. Apparently the staff weren’t pleased with how dry we were, so we got back in the creek. I heard a woman behind me tell Johnathan Lopez she is from Long Island. I turn around and look her over, it’s Amy Winters. Thin, ripped, and a below the knee amputee. I tell her I’m from Queens and ask if she has done the DR before, I knew her answer was yes before she spoke. The woman oozed strength and determination. Bellies down, low crawl. With our weight. The deep parts were hard to get out of with our weight pushing us into the water. It was uncomfortable. I heard Dashee up ahead crying, her pack was pushing her too deep into the water. Everyone was struggling. Sephra sat on the side of the rocks cheering us on, taking photos and singing.

After our little swim we took off our shoes and went for a barefoot hike. I barely felt the pain in my feet, which were now numb from the cold water. It was almost refreshing to get my feet out of my shoes. Eventually we hiked back into the stream, still barefoot. The rocks were slippery and I was deeply concerned i was going to slip off a rock and crack open my head. My bucket which was bungee corded to my ruck popped off and hit the water. Johnathan Lopez picked it up behind me. I asked to take it back but he refused and carried it for me as i nervously tried to scramble out of the water. For anyone who doesn’t know Johnathan, he is wonderful. He is an amputee as well, his arm, and you can find him working with Team Oscar Mike, a company that’s goal is to keep injured veterans “On the move.” I have seen him at a few events and he is one of the strongest and most selfless people you will ever meet. He leaned over to me and said “You’re one tough cookie.” I smiled at the compliment from such a remarkable person.

Little bits of kindness like this are what slowly began to transform our group into 1 cohesive unit. Anytime we had a moment to rest, we drank water. We all started to run out fairly quickly and ended up helping each other filter water out of the stream. We shared snacks and electrolytes. We all kept each other’s spirits up by telling stories, making silly jokes, supporting and uplifting each other. Mike Raedy’s daughter’s favorite song “Baby Shark” by PINKFONG will probably be stuck in my head until the end of time.

 Riverside Farm

When we finally arrived at the farm we dropped our packs in a row and headed down to the pond with our sandbags. There we found Joe standing over the pond, and a man in the water. Joe told us Joel dropped out last night during out hike, and wanted back in. Joe made it clear he had stripped him of his bib and he would continue unofficially. He told us in order to get him back in, he would need someone to give up their place. A few people volunteered to leave, and I was shocked. The people who volunteered were people I saw as very strong and I didn’t believe should go. I was unsure if they were volunteering because they really wanted to give up, or if they were just being selfless. As a group, we refused to let them go. Joe eventually let all of us stay, but told us we would have to all get in the pond and stay underwater as a team for 30 seconds. Of course, it took us 5 or so tries to meet Joe’s standards, and we were all out of breath quickly. Then Joe told us we had to drop our sandbags in the middle of the pond and make sure we remembered where they were so we could come get them later. Once back on land, Joe had us go back in to get them to make sure we could find them. Again and again. Get all the sandbags out, get all the people out. Hold the bags over your head. Get the people and sandbags back in. We weren’t fast enough, do it over. The whole team wasn’t in the water, do it over. Some people were working harder than others. do it over. In an out of the pond repeatedly, passing around something like 50 sandbags, ranging in weight from 35-55lb (dry) that were now waterlogged.

After a while, we headed back up the hill to our packs, only to find them gone, and we had to find them and get back in line. Most of them were in the creek, but some were scattered across the farm. We found them all and got back in line.
Next Joe told us how he never liked the placement of 2 large boulders on either side of the farm, and he wanted them switched.  We all ran off in different directions in search of objects to help us. We ended up with some logs and poles we used to prop the rock up, and slide the rocks across the farm. While moving the rocks, Joe’s wife Courtney came outside and added that she wanted one of the rocks rotated 90 degrees. The rocks weighed about a ton each, and all we had was our bodies and these poles. Joe gave us an hour time cap and warned we would get 100 burpees for every minute over the hour that it took us. after some more arguing and deliberation on technique, it took us 90 minutes, so we owed joe 3000 burpees.


Next we were told to walk over to Erin and give her a sequence of 5 non sequential numbers that we would need to remember and would be asked later to test our mental state. Then we headed back to the pond to get our sandbags out again. The first few of us in the water had gotten most of the bags out by the time half the group got back. Shawn Driggers was doing most of the hard work, diving under the water again and again to fetch the bag, while me and Johnathan passed them back to shore. I spotted a leech on Shawn’s hand briefly before he dropped back under the water. Once the whole group was there, all the bags were already on shore. We told everyone to jump in the water and get wet so it would look like we all went in, then we headed back up toward the farm.

We rounded the corner and the barb wire crawl was staring us in the face. The rumors were true. There was a small team there measuring out the crawl. They told us to line up in the field and roll over the grass to the barb scraps, then carry the barb wire back to the barn. The grass wass covered in morning dew and very cold, and the barb wire was very heavy. Next they told us to get to the start line and crawl. Halfway through they told us they want us to get our lap sub 10 minutes. When we had finished, the fastest person, Ryan Robeson, came in at 10:05. We got back up after the 1 lap. I thought to myself, that must’ve been a test run. I was wondering if they would use that lap to uphold a time standard for later. I tried not to think about it as we began our hike up Joe’s mountain.
We were told to look for a tractor tire in the woods and carry it up to the summit. We searched everywhere for the tire, to no avail. We stopped at a cabin in the woods and started having some fun with buckets. We filled several buckets with water, got in a line, and began some exercises. Squats, burpees, static v-up holds, all while passing several buckets filled with water down the line and doing indian runs. The whole time Joe’s sons were standing over us telling us we weren’t working hard enough.
Next we ran a bit back down the mountain to collect rocks (i am just now realizing i have no idea why we went backwards, though i suppose it was just to make our climb more difficult). We were instructed to fill our buckets with rocks and told we would be judged on number and size of rocks. I filled my bucket with several very large rocks, and filled the empty spaces with smaller ones. That bucket was VERY very heavy. We began the steep climb up to the summit, and i could barely take 5 steps without resting. Halfway up, i decided to dump a couple of rocks, and was still struggling. We approached a large down tree in the road and someone near me, I am sorry I cannot remember who it was, offered to help me get the bucket over the tree. He didn’t have a bucket, just a single large rock (not everyone had showed up with buckets, as it wasn’t on the gear list). I took his rock and he carried the bucket. After a few steps he commented, “This thing IS really heavy.” I told him I could take it back, or we could switch on and off, but he refused to give it back to me. I worried a bit for punishment reaching the summit with just one rock, but decided any punishment would be justified given that I hadn’t carried it all the way up. When we arrived, we were instructed simply to dump our rocks. No one checked what we had been carrying. All part of the mind games of the death race, it didn’t matter.

Shrek’s cabin

On the top of Joe’s mountain is a small cabin. It is well known by anyone who participates in a Spartan Endurance event like Death Race or Agoge. It has another name, but every Spartan calls it Shrek’s. Once we reached the cabin, we put our gear down and Neely told us we were allowed 10 minutes to do whatever we needed. I downed a bunch of water and ate a protein bar. She informed us that we had some gardening to do, we all took out our axes and pruning shears. Neely stated she wanted the entire top of the mountain chopped down. We all looked around for a moment realized everything around the cabin was overgrown, and we had to cut it all down by hand. We quickly got to work. Make 2 piles, one of the greenery, and a separate one of any wood that could be used for kindling. I quickly realized most of the overgrowth was thorn bushes as I was scratched repeatedly, and the stalks were thick and difficult to cut. Thankfully, the occasional raspberry lifted my spirits (they were delicious). We were warned it would be to our advantage to cut everything as best as possible. After a couple hours of trimming the hedges, we had made some serious progress. Then we were informed this is where we would do the burpees we owed Joe, in this freshly cut field filled with thorns and stems thick enough to impale you.

The sun started to set on our second night, it was around 9pm. Joe told us he would be back at 6:30 am to take us all back down to the farm. We had 9 hours to complete 3000 burpees before he returned. He split us up into 2 groups. He wanted a weak group and a strong group. I went over to the strong group, and then he added a rule, everyone must keep pace and count together. I thought about it briefly and went to the weak group. Joe gave us a speech about how by calling ourselves weak, we were psychologically setting ourselves up for failure. He predicted most of the weak group would quit before he returned. We began to talk about our strategy, and the burpees got off to a rough start, everyone arguing about pace and rest time. The strong group was at 30 before we had a synchronized 10. Rob Barger was standing over us calling out ZERO. Yvette asked if we could form a 3rd group in between to go faster. I told her we had a long night ahead of us and pacing would probably be our best bet, but I could sense her frustration and agreed to pair off with her and do them together. We began on our own before Jason Barnes (Spartan Race Director) came over and told us he wouldn’t allow multiple groups splitting off. Yvette and I looked at each other and silently agreed to move over to the strong group.
The strong group was 63 burpees ahead of us, and we agreed to pay them back at the end. Amy Winters was leading the rep count, and despite others offering to do so, she kept the count the entire night. We were doing sets of 10, with 10 seconds of rest in between, and 2 minutes of rest after every 100. Someone else in the group was counting the 10 seconds in his head, then out loud “3,2,1.” A couple sloppy reps from an unknown person in the group left Jason screaming for a proper burpee demonstration. He threatened to zero us out if that anonymous person continued doing it improperly. We kept perfect form after that. For hours the only words being spoken were “down, up, jump…1!” “down, up, jump…2!” Every 500 reps we took a 10 minute break. What felt like every 30 minutes or so, there was a voice booming that someone had quit. They were taking bibs from people who were quitting and hanging them up around the cabin. It reminded me of a horror movie, like shirts of dead bodies strung up on the haunted cabin in the woods, waiting for the next victim.
Somewhere around 800 my right knee started to act a bit strangely, strong tension behind my kneecap. By 1000 reps, it had turned into a sharp pain. Evrytime we jumped in from the down position, i felt it. Amy told me to go to medical and get them to wrap my knee. “Are we allowed medical assistance?” I asked her. She said we were and I walked over to medical. Neely was sitting over there and heard me explain my pain. She said it happens to her and it’s likely my IT band. I told her I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up form much longer, and she said it was ok as long as I keep moving.
As walked back over to the group, Rob asked whats going on, and for the first time I said  out loud. “I dont think I can keep going much longer.” He gave me a blank stare. I explained the pain behind my knee. “I dont want to half ass this.” “So dont,” he replied. I though about my pain and looked over to the group. My brain wass at war with itself. “I dont want to give up, but my knee is really killing me.” Rob wass quiet for a moment and then said, “Pain is a gift.” I let out a groan and walked back over to the group.
Yvette told me to bring my legs in one at a time instead of jumping in. I ded this for a while, but noticed it slowing me down and I was falling slightly behind the rep count. It was only a second or two slower, but it cut my rest time down to 8 seconds between sets. It started to eat away at me. I asked the group if we could extend the rest time. No one responded. “Up, down, jump.” My brain started going wild. Calculating. Debating. I let the poison sink in. I kept thinking to myself, I cant keep up with this pace much longer, I’m barely getting rest. I told Yvette and Amy I needed to stop. Amy told me to just lie there for a while, saying she would make up my reps for me. I told her it didn’t feel right to just lay there, and I kept going. She kept telling me to rest, but I wasn’t listening. At 1300 reps, I finally told them, “I cant do this anymore.” Amy and Yvette begged me to stay with them. “Just lie down, don’t worry about it.” But I couldn’t. “You guys are crushing this right now. You’re energy is great and I’m like poison. I don’t want to drag you down. I’m leaving.” They tried one last time to get me to stay, but I walked away.
I took a seat on my bucket and drank some water. A couple minutes went by and I was staring off into space, fighting a war in my brain.
Dont quit.
But you cant keep up.
Dont quit.

But you’re in a lot of pain.
Only 1,300 reps in. 1,700 to go. There’s no way. There’s no way you can do that. That’s more than double what you just did. The pain. It’s too much pain. It’s 2am, you have 4.5 hours left. 4.5 hours of burpees? You cant do that. There’s a fire. There’s the cabin. Quit. Go to sleep. The Medic ATV can take you down the mountain in a couple of hours. You cant do this. The cabin was taunting me, beckoning me to it’s bed, ready to claim my bib as a new decoration.
Rob walked over to me and started a normal conversation. We talked about daily life, events we’ve done recently, funny anecdotes about people. A few minutes went by.
“So,” he says, “you have 2 options. 1: get back over there and keep doing burpees. 2: quit.”
“I think I’m going to give Neely my bib.”
I was dead set on the idea.

Just then Randy Ramcharran walks over. Rob says “Orrrr, you can talk to Randy.”
“What’s up?” Randy asks.
“I just told Rob I want to quit.”
Randy refused to accept this. He told me a few people have formed another slower group and they’ve decided theyre just gonna keep doing reps slowly until the sun comes up. I started a rebuttle, but he didn’t listen. I reluctantly walked over to the other group with him. They were doing 10 reps at a time, with a couple minutes of rest in between. OK, I can move at this pace. My knee still hurt, but I got through the reps slowly and steadily. Shawn pointed out a couple shooting stars in the sky and I started to appreciate where I was and what I was doing. There was a new moon, and the sky was completely full of stars. It was breathtaking.
A couple hours later, there was light visible in the sky. Abe Mikell told us all to take a moment to look at the view. The sky was absolutely beautiful. The sun rose on the top of Joe’s mountain as we began the 2nd morning of the death race. Somewhere around 6 am Ryan Robeson finished his burpees. He and John Chambers had split off into a pair of ultra fast burpee-ers early in the night. Ryan was allowed to sit by the fire and eat with the staff as we all continued our burpees. A short while later, the fast group called out loudly “97, 98, 99, 3000!” Minutes later Joe was back and telling us all to get back to our packs. I had completed 1,780 burpees.


Joe asked how many people who started in the weak group were still here, myself and a couple other raised our hands. He told us he was surprised. We learned 6 people had quit that night. Joe told us he didn’t care how many burpees we had done, he just wanted us to do burpees all night.


I was suddenly thrilled my friends hadn’t let me quit. Although, I still felt somehow less worthy not having done them all.

As I thought about how my bib could’ve been hanging up on the cabin, we started our trek back down the mountain towards the farm.

Author: athenaendurance

Hey, I'm Athena. I'm a city girl who used to have a whole lot of bad habits and found salvation through exercise. I am proof anyone can come from rock bottom and not only endure, but thrive. This is my first time dabbling in blogging, I hope to create something people enjoy and benefit from.

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