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Posts Tagged ‘extreme’

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.

Is Trail Running Extreme?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Without a generally accepted unit of measure, quantifying the “extremeness” levels of an activity can be very difficult.  Two ways to measure how extreme your activity is by the level of adrenaline your body produces and the amount of risk involved in your activity.

Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands to stimulate the heart-rate, dilate your blood vessels, and open your air passages.  Your body produces adrenaline in high-stress or physically exhilarating situations.  So when your body produces adrenaline it means you are doing something extreme right?  Well, not necessarily.  Although many extreme activities are designed to promote the release of adrenaline to your body, other activities can produce adrenaline in the same way; such as alcohol, stress, caffeine, or sugar.  None of those things seem very extreme to me.  Maybe sugar and caffeine are what makes Mountain Dew so extreme.  So extreme.

I prefer to measure extremeness by the amount of risk you take.  A friend was trying to tell me last night that the television show “Man vs. Wild” was extreme.  I don’t agree because the host of the show has a safety net, which lowers the risk levels considerably. I will admit, most of the things the host does are risky and difficult (not to mention disgusting), but I assume, based on the presence of the cameraman, that if something horrible were to happen, that they have an a back-up plan.  I’m sure they always have an evacuation route, first-aid kit, and probably weapons to heed off wild animals.  If this is not true, then the cameraman is the real risk taker on the show, not the host.  He does everything the host does but with a camera!  AIG took risks but I wouldn’t consider them extreme.  Anyone can insure 150 billion dollars worth of assets without any collateral to back them up if they have a safety net in the form of a 70 billion dollar government bail out.  Too easy.  Put down the Mountain Dew and stop being a poser AIG man.

Extremeness is best measured by the amount of risk you take, without a safety net, and the severity of the potential outcome.  This is why trail running is extreme.  I admit that the risks of trail running is lower than other activities but the difference is that when you go down on the trail, you’re going down.  You can do very little to alter the outcome as the event is happening.  Not having control of whether or not you get injured is extreme.  Also, the types of injuries that can occur while trail running, broken or twisted joints and bones, can lead to a very detrimental outcome.  Runners often run daily, use it to relieve stress, and often don’t “feel right” when they aren’t able to run on a non-rest day.  Trail running injuries are often ones where the only thing you can do to recover is not run.  Not being able to run can be a very negative outcome to a runner.  Not to mention losing all of the ability gained from logging hundreds upon hundreds of miles in all conditions.  Other running injuries which are often developed over the long-term allow recovery to include not running as many miles or doing alternate cardiovascular training.  Trail running injuries usually require you to go “cold turkey.”  I wish trail running injuries would require you to go “jive turkey” instead.  That would be awesome.

Taking risks without a safety net and a high negative outcome is extreme so get out on the trail and run…or just put a lot of sugar in your coffee this morning.  Extreme!!!