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Posts Tagged ‘extreme running’

Death Race: You May Die in Vermont

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

death-race-vermontThe Death Race could be one of the most difficult adventure races known to man (or woman).  The tagline of this race is, ‘You May Die.’  Yeah, that sounds pretty gnarly.  But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger right?  Well signing the three word race waiver that states, “I might die” may make you second guess that statement.  The race is 24 hours of physical and psychological challenges full of barbed wire, sharp rocks, mental tasks, and carrying things for no particular reason.  There are no ground rules so you can’t train for this race, just be ready to kill yourself.  It’s like any race though, 95% mental right?  Well, probably more like 110% mental; and I realize that giving anything more than 100% is mathematically impossible…

Race Director Joe DeSena says, “…failure always comes when there’s a lack of commitment.”  Joe knows about hard work and commitment.  He’s from Howard Beach, Queens where he parlayed a pool cleaning business into a job on Wall Street.  Who knew they had pools in downtown Manhattan?  From that job Joe made a small fortune and bought a 400-acre spread in the Green Mountains.  There he has established a securities trading concern, a wedding retreat, and yoga studio.  This smart businessman even bought the local trading post, why let someone else make money on the increased visitors you attracted to this small town?  When Joe isn’t busy building a small town empire he runs Ironman triathlons which include desert crossings, river safaris, and ice treks.  Joe wanted to create a race that separates the tough from the mentally tough.  He even discourages participants during the race, telling them to just quit.  Sounds like a combination of my fraternity hell week, Ranger school experience, and my “nothing was ever good enough” father.  Sign me up!

Here’s a race recap, so you can expect the unexpected.  From 8-12 on a Friday night you take your bike and mandatory gear up 1800 feet to get instructions and make your game plan, then go back down the hill to try to sleep from 12-330, race starts at 4:00 AM.  First you crawl uphill in a ditch under barbed wire until you get to a bunch of 1 foot tree stumps.  You have to find the stump with your number on it.  The task is to dig the tree stump out of the ground with the roots using an axe or any other equipment you may have.  If you don’t do this in 2 hours, you’re already out of the race.  Thanks for trying.  Once you get the stump out of the ground you have to carry the stump, along with your other gear, back down the barbed wire ditch.  You then grab your bike and other equipment and crawl down another barbed wire ditch leading to a rocky river.  You walk about a mile or two down the river, filled with only jagged rocks on the bottom, until you come to a man with a single match (not waterproof).  Take the match, turn around, go back upstream, and up the ditch you just came from, still carrying all of your equipment and the stump.  You are led to a pile of 20 large logs where you must quarter split every log.  Some logs can take up to 30-40 minutes to split.  Make 6 of the splits small because you will be taking 6 logs, along with your bike, gear, stump, and match with you.  You go for about a mile where you can drop the logs before climbing up a steep mountain.  At the top of the mountain you have to memorize 10 names.  Turn around and go back down the mountain to recite the names, if you mess up guess where you are going back up to.  Once passing this task you get into another barbed wire ditch and crawl to a foot bridge with Legos on it.  You must memorize the Lego structure and colors and go back down the ditch.  You come to a pond where there is a bag of Legos for you to recreate the Legos formation you just saw.  You then travel back down to the rocky river, but this time you make a right and go upstream to a flame and torch in the middle of the river.  You must then search for a hidden chicken egg in the forest.  You must find some wood and make a fire to boil water (hope you still have that match) to cook the egg then eat it (I’m allergic to eggs, otherwise I’d do this race).  After completing this task you go over a hill where your bike tires are and ride to the finish.  Of course not before adding 20% of your body weight worth of rocks to you.  Try balancing that.  Sound easy?  Then you must be confident like Donald Trump.  DT’s gone broke multiple times you know.

Or if you want to see what you are really made of then sign up.  Still not sure if you can handle it?  Check out this video that shows some sections of the course.  Still not sure?  Try it anyway, don’t worry, you may die.

Great Trail Running Quote

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

“I keep running and when I get to a place I can’t run anymore, I turn around and run home.”

downhill-trail-running-manI read this quote in a running magazine a while back and thought it was really neat.  The quote comes from a trail runner explaining how, and probably more importantly, why he ran down a steep rock cliff that all the other runners stopped and walked down.  This quote symbolizes why I love to go serious and extreme  Trail Running.  It’s a freelance, exhilarating activity where you get whatever you put into it.  If you want to walk down the cliff, you can, but if you want to challenge yourself and heighten your senses, then you run down it.  It’s up to you. Challenge yourself.

Another important challenge behind this quote is not the decision the Trail Runner made to run down the cliff, but the decision to just simply run until he can’t run anymore.  How many of us have run until complete exhaustion where our bodies could not physically run anymore?  I want to challenge myself to do that more often (probably not on a remote trail though).  I truly don’t know what I could be capable of achieving in running until I run to complete exhaustion.

Bottom line, I’m sure the quoted trail runner didn’t stand at the top of the cliff and think, “Should I run down this?”  He just did it.  Hansel from the movie “Zoolander” said it best, “I just grip it and rip it, that’s just how I live my life bro.”  Grip it and Rip it on your next trail run.

Running in Cold Weather

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

As the temperature decreases I have noticed that my motivation for running has conversely decreased.  I’ll admit it, I do not like the cold.  You never hear anyone say, “I love this cold weather, I wish it was a little colder” or “I’m so happy its finally cold!  I hope it never warms up again!”  I’m not a veterinarian, but I did take a class about animals once and heard that humans are warm blooded animals.  Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is trying to make themselves feel better about their choice of area of habitation.  However, no matter how cold it is where I chose to live, I have to remind myself, “Even though I dislike the cold weather, I have running to do and goals to accomplish.”

I somehow have to motivate myself to get out there and run.  One way I do this is by comparing myself to other people.  I go to weather.com and see all of the other places in the United States that are colder than where I am and imagine that there have to be some people running in that cold weather.  However, comparing myself to normal runners only takes my motivation so far.  I need the stories of extreme runners who push their bodies outside of the realm of normal.

One of my recent motivations has been the 127 people who have completed one of the coldest races in the world, the North Pole Marathon.  This race is held at the geographic North Pole and is run entirely on 6 to 12 ft of ice on top of about 12,000 ft of Arctic Ocean.  Guinness Book of World Records ranks the race as the Northern most Marathon.  Runners set off with running shoes, trail boots, snowshoes, and trek poles with sharpened ends or rifles to ward against polar bears.   These people have completed a race that no human should be able to run.  They must have uncanny mental toughness.

I have decided to use this fact that running in the cold is 99% mental toughness and have told myself that I am running in Tahiti during the middle of the summer.  It has worked for me but I think people are becoming confused when they see me running down the street, in board shorts, no T-shirt, and arm floatys around my biceps; in the middle of winter.  I just tell them, “It’s all in the mind man.”  That alleviates their confusion.