Posted on Leave a comment

DNF: Ultra Aftermath.

I originally pictured the finish line as a goal.  But the real finish is so much further than the finish line.  Its at the Pickle Barrel for the after party.  Its Sunday when those racers take the field.  Its next month when people are still asking “Well how bad was it?  Really.”  Its next year at the Amesbury Sprint.  The NJ Super and at the Death Race.  The finish will be every single day after the race, whether its training for another race or just having a run.  It will be that sense of pride when I talk with these other crazy Spartans and we smile at the word “Crazy”.  The finish line is so much more than an inflated arch.  Its that accomplishment of completing the task, what ever the task maybe.”

The danger of writing something down is reflection.  I may or may not have created my own destiny.  Made a self-fulfilling prophesy, or simply slapped that bitch Karma one to many times on her ass.  For what ever reason I played till the chips were down, the house wasn’t dealing anymore cards, and they were calling in their marker.  They say you have to know when to hold ’em, fold ’em, walk away or run.  Well I didn’t hold, fold or walk.  They just wouldn’t let me run any more.  The Ugly lights got turned on and the race director Mike Morris said “Sorry folks the parks closed.  The Moose at the front should have told you

But the end never reflects the effort.  Even now in my head my mind is still running that course.  My body is in a battered state, yet I know if I could just throw on a pair of shoes I could drag myself back into a moving state. So where am I, what has happened, where to I go now.  Well the smart man goes to Google.  A smart woman taught me that.

Here’s what I found:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  These are the 5 accepted stages of grief and loss.  “Although presented in a set order, they are not necessarily experienced in that order. In addition, most people cycle through each stage multiple times.”  

Denial even my own initial reaction of telling myself “I am not denying this, I accept that I didn’t finish” is in fact the denial.  Its denying myself the pain of the not finishing, to try to jump over to acceptance and move on.  There’s nothing healthy about that.

Anger is easy I am full of it!  But what I am not full of is blame.  There is only one person responsible for me not finishing:  ME.  Not the course, I had the endurance to continue, even on a faster pace than my first lap.  Not Spartan Race;  they had a rule they enforced it, I fell on the wrong side of it.  I do not blame my friends who I freely chose to stay with, staying with them may have been the reason I had that second wind and the energy to go on.  No, blame is a selfish emotion, it finds fault in others and absolves the self of wrong.

Bargaining, I’ll be going through this little hell for a while.  Oddly enough not on the course.  When I started that second lap I damn well knew it was a “suicide run”  I had no idea how long I was going to be able to go, but I had a pretty good idea they weren’t going to let me get far.  I went anyway because that is what I came to do.

Depression.  Do I really need to delve into this one?  If your not up to speed on my thoughts on this by now read on it becomes self apparent.

Acceptance.  I accepted this long before I should have and this why I am writing.  I have accepted my DNF graciously.  And that is not the right way.  I do not and will not accept this as a defeat, as quitting, or as failing.  I simply ran but oddly enough ran out of time.

I was accepted to undertake a great challenge.  An experience for a life time.  In an activity that I truly love, I, me, the little runner that couldn’t was given the opportunity to bite off as much as I could, and choke on my own hubris.  The names I was set next to.  Athletes of the highest caliber.  Training regimes which rival Olympic athletes, even Olympic Athletes!  And me.  Chugga chugga pokey pokey 30 minute 5k. What the hell was I thinking.  26 miles over a mountain!  I really thought I could do it.  I prepared a little, had some quality equipment and my little bucket of round 2 items.

I’m not in the mood for writing a recap.  I will say when we started I felt like ass.  And I knew the initial accent would be tough.  I didn’t speculate that it would be as tough as it was.  But that first glorious down hill portion set the pace in my mind.  I was going to finish!  My character had other plans.  I fell back onto my personal training and habits, which is to place others first and myself second.  It wasn’t until it was too late did I make the hard choice to leave. It was personally my lowest moment.  After that I made a unbelievable accent to the summit, across it and then flew like a damn dive bombing eagle down the back side.  People complained how bad it was but I couldn’t tell you,   For myself I never saw it.  I looked at the ground for milliseconds at a time: Enough to decide if the foot hold would support 50% of my weight or less.  Yes Jesus walked on water but I was doing my damnedest to run over mud and stay clean.  My shoe and shirts swap at the Start/Finish zone ate some time, and I ate too.  Everything that was left in my pack and more.  I washed it down with warm PBR.  I looked on stunned at other runners who pulled the plug.  And I saw one undefeated soul.  We knew it was hopeless but out we went.  What took me hours earlier took less than 2 on my second lap.  We could have gone faster still but had linked up with yet another forlorn group.  It was all for not however.  Arguing with rules is not my style.  Being pulled was not a surprise or anything, we knew there would be time hacks.  That’s life.  Shit happens.

I only want one thing and one thing only.  Another shot at it.  In my personal life this is going to be twice as hard.  But I am a blessed man.  I am thankful for all that is set before me.  Challenges and rewards alike.  I just want a chance to fix my choices and be able to put the 100% at it again.  If I get some flak about that.  Than I might enter back into Anger.

Posted on 2 Comments

Ultra Beast: A few final thoughts before the Ultra.

I thought I wanted to blog about this coming weekend.  But couldn’t muster the energy.  I searched inspirational quotes.  Went over some old blogs.  Looked at other peoples blogs.  I noticed that a melancholy sense of apathy has set in.  My bin is packed.  Bags are packed.  Everything is prepped and waiting.  GPS is set.  Time to leave is set.  Emergency numbers and contact numbers programed.  Fridays events lined up.  Alarm set for Saturday.  Last “training” run has been done.  Rest period is in motion.  1 year of preparation, anticipation and aggravation is done.

At this time tomorrow I plan on sitting on my tail gate in the parking lot above the course, just like I did last year.  The Start and Finish line at the bottom of a very steep hill, will lay in front of me.  There will be an air of frantic energy as people put the final touches on the race.  The trick will be to not buy into that frenetic chaos. Later on at the Outback, there will be an all to familiar fraternity of racers boasting and retelling stories.  It will be wonderful. Hurricane Heaters, Trifecta Tribe members, those looking to complete the Trifecta, Beast Veterans and first timers.

On Saturday morning I will take my usual position at the back of the heat.  In front of me will be Championship racers and Ultra Beast Individual runners.  Behind me Team Ultra Beast Members will be waiting to fill that stockyard like pen behind the starting arch.  Every race is different.  Every race is the same.  Forward until its over.  This one will be holding the unique challenge of ending; only to start again and do it twice.  I have never done any race like this before.  I have never run this distance before.  I have however faced many challenges that will be replicated in this race.  I haven’t quit on them and have no plans to quit on Saturday.  If for nothing else to say yes, I did do that.

I originally pictured the finish line as a goal.  But the real finish is so much further than the finish line.  Its at the Pickle Barrel for the after party.  Its Sunday when those racers take the field.  Its next month when people are still asking “Well how bad was it?  Really.”  Its next year at the Amesbury Sprint.  The NJ Super and at the Death Race.  The finish will be every single day after the race, whether its training for another race or just having a run.  It will be that sense of pride when I talk with these other crazy Spartans and we smile at the word “Crazy”.  The finish line is so much more than an inflated arch.  Its that accomplishment of completing the task, what ever the task maybe.

Posted on Leave a comment

Dispatches from the Storm Front: HH-016 Amesbury, MA.

Zero dark thirty.  A parking lot somewhere or nowhere.  The air is damp.  Remnants of the previous evenings deluge still hangs off tree and person alike.  A black technical (thats a pickup truck for you non-military types) marks the make shift rally point.  Tommy Mac and his staff greet each HH’er collecting waivers and directing them to put excess gear into the back of the Technical.  This is the Hurricane Heat.  A team oriented pre-race heat for Spartan racers who need an extra adrenaline push before they start their race day.

HH-016 was special.  It marked the 1st anniversary of the original HH brought on by Hurricane Irene.  Where hearty souls took up Joe D’s challenge to run into the storm.  So successful was that first HH in 2011 that Spartan Race has run 16 more.  Yet again setting a standard for separating themselves from their competition.  By listening to their racers their Spartans most importantly their family.  All Spartan Racers are family.  HH’ers are like that awe inspiring Aunt or Uncle.  The one that shows up at birthday parties and holidays with strange gifts and stories from exotic places.  Their stories seep into your imagination until one day you decide you too need to go on an adventure too.  HH-016 was just that adventure for so, so many.

When Spartan Race says 0530 sharp with a start time of 0600 they mean it.  I learned on my first HH, HH-007, that you do not want to be late!  Not wanting to be that guy, I also learned being early is no prize.  Now I have just given in to the fact that early or late your going to be doing burpees, lots of burpees.

Along the dirt trail which makes up a nice piece of downhill on the course HHer’s were assembling. Breaking off into groups.  Strangers, pairs, small groups, Spartan veterans and previous HH’ers.  For me it was an internet reunion.  I couldn’t turn around without seeing someone I have ran with at a Spartan Race, HH, met at training camps, volunteered with at the DR, handed out flyers at an expo with, or met in Spartan FB pages.  Former co-workers, Fire Academy graduates.  This was like a small version of “This is your life 2011-2012”  Yeah I was more than happy.

Typical of every HH the forming of groups is paramount.  And staying with that group is the goal.  To work together.  Out of the 22 persons on team “Lost” I knew 4 prior to starting.  Because I am terrible with names I tend to characterize by apparel.  And Spartan did a great job of killing that for me by making everyone wear black.  I know now Dom was wearing his signature Orange hat.  Keith a blue back pack,  the 2 wonderful ladies from Canada who did not speak to much english, which didn’t slow team “Lost” in anyway, and Mikel who translated.  Sandy protected the eggs, Brig had a k-9 eaten Tough Mudder shirt, someone had a pack with the Zelda logo on it, Devin more hair on his face than on his head.  Steve all the way in from AZ who I was with at HH-007.  Our Team Captain with the epic left arm sleeve tattoo.  Lisa another DR racer, over coming injury to run.  Some other heavily accented Gents who could scale walls like Spiderman.  This partial list is brought to you by Aricept.  For those I can’t immediately recall my most sincere apologies.  Because Team LOST was, to date, my favorite team to have been a part of.  Micha Arnoulds team in AZ was hard to beat.  And Storm Chasers IN was a classy group.

Team Lost immediately grasped the concepts of team work and accountability.  Together we pushed, pulled, carried and motivated each other.  This is what the HH is all about.  Whether carrying a tire over water pits, assisting each other over walls or up ropes. Team Lost always put the mission first, never accepted defeat, never quit and never a left a fallen comrade.  I have read posts from those on Team Warrior, Team Ninja and The Storm Chasers.  The Warrior Ethos was plainly in use on every team.  Even “bleedover” teams were people got confused, and lost their original team.  They were quickly absorbed into another.  This is how the HH works because in the end we are all one team.

There are many exhaustive recaps of HH-016 online.  Very excellent recaps that cover each and every nuance of the course.  I love those recaps.  Mainly because I’m lucky if I can remember what I had for breakfast, so in reading their work I can relive moments which blew by me in a blur.  Those who can recall each obstacle and challenge certainly have superior memories to mine.  I don’t remember each challenge individually because my HH’s start the moment I try to sleep the night before, through the groggy sleep deprived drive to the Heat and then the awesomeness of the Heat itself.  I don’t take stock of the how many walls, pits, hills, ropes of burpees I did.  Much like a boxer doesn’t take inventory of the punches he threw or the hits he took.  He just keeps going till the bell rings or his gets bell rung.

Its time for you who have not done an HH to get off the fence.  There were so many first time Spartan first time HH’ers at HH-016.  You can do it.  I believe in you.  More than 150 people who turned out on Saturday believe in you.  You will never reach your limits if you don’t find out where they are.  To go further than you ever have you must first go to where you have never been.  Take the challenge run the Hurricane Heat.

Posted on Leave a comment

HH-011 Middle Ground

1800 hrs, 20 April 2012 Haspin Acres.  Laurel Indiana.  HH-011

Dispatches from the Storm Front.

Chasing a Storm can be a lot like chasing your tail.  Organizing runners is akin to herding cat’s.  Organizing Hurricane Heat Runners is like trying to herd cat’s while they are simultaneously trying to chase their tails, the wind, and each other.  Andy Weinberg, Joe DeSena and Tommy Mac definitely know this, and boy do they love the chaos.

HH-011 fit right in with the Founders race as a whole.  It was chaotic, dirty, wet and brutal.  The Chaos started right in the beginning and lasted right to the end.  Truth be told I have revised this blog many times.  At each revision it morphed into personal observations and internal issues.  That isn’t fair to those who participated in the HH or those who oversaw it.  I believe it was a success.  It was “fun” and as alway each person should have taken away something that will make them stay positive for a long time.

For me I tend to believe in the “Warrior Ethos”  which is the benchmark of the HH.

“I will always put the Mission first.”

“I will never admit defeat.”

“I will never quit.”

“I will never leave a fallen comrade”

These aren’t just words.  You don’t just say them.  You either believe them and act accordingly or you don’t say them at all.  In the small realm of the HH the “Mission” isn’t always apparent however there is always a primary directive in every HH which is also part of the ethos:  Finish the HH, never accept defeat, never quit.  Which brings us to the last part.  “Never leave a fallen comrade.”  This is where my blog has digressed numerous times.  It comes down to this.  A team is only as strong as its weakest link.  Or in these cases its slowest member.  Your job, as a team, is to encourage that person.  I’m not going to go into my tangent rant again. Just do it, stay together as a team.

It was a little difficult in this HH to keep the teams separated.  I’m not sure why but we seemed to be one massive swarm for the majority of the HH.  That was actually ok although personally I am more of a small group person.  It is easier for accountability, safety, and enjoyment.  Oddly enough those are my primary goals when I do anything.  Life is to short to get hurt while not having fun.

Going into details about what actually occurred during the HH isn’t really relevant.  HH’ters got wet, got dirty, climbed ropes, sat in nasty disgusting water.  And of course carried heavy objects and pushed the hell out of some ground.  If you are reading this and want insight into what to expect from an HH I will tell you this. Show up on time, with a smile.  Remember you chose to do this.  Be positive; always.  Leave your baggage at the door.  Be a team player, sacrifice for your team.  Chaos is an exponential factor:  Like a fire, chaos builds with the more air you give it so shut your mouth and open your ears.  Have fun.  If you can’t have fun by laughing at the ridiculousness of the whole thing, this really isn’t for you.  There are 3 types of fun.  There’s the type of fun you have while doing something and its fun to talk about after.  There’s fun that isn’t so much fun while your doing it but lots of fun talking about after.  Then there is the last type of fun.  Its not fun while your doing it and its not fun to talk about it after.  Keep your head in the game long enough to have the first 2 types of fun.  If your slipping into the third type.  Stop, take a breath, reassess the situation.  You might have missed something.

Posted on Leave a comment

Founders Race: Laurel, IN

 

Authors note:

I have about 80 different directions to approach this blog from.  I have narrowed it down to 3.  The next will be in:  Dispatches from the Storm HH-011 in http://maspahtens.wordpress.com and the third will either be in my personal blog or again here in MAspahtens.

CORN FED!!!

The founders race started from a couple of people hashing around on fb wanting a race, to getting Spartan Race to put their money where their mouth was, and bring a race to Indiana where it had been demanded.  For those of you sitting back and saying bring it to my state I give you this.  Its been said that if Moses won’t go to the mountain than the mountain has to go to Moses.  If your Moses and you think you can bring the mountain to you?   Good luck.  These Corn fed’s literally moved a mountain to get this race here.  It caused monumental strains on friendships, relationships and I think some Navy ships.  I could be wrong about the last part.  A warning to those of you who think Spartan race is just going to load up and bring their toys to your town.  You had better be ready to give every last drop of sweat, blood and tears to make it happen. And even if you are successful you will still have to measure up to the Corn Fed’s and that is one tall order.

FOUNDERS RACE

“Here is my take on it. I feel like people missunderstood what a Founder’s race was. Taking it back to the day when the Rad Dudes that thought up OCR. I imagine that there weren’t really any major obstacles expect nature. Nothing fancy. As the years have gone by, they have to up the anti and compete with the other OCRs and make it fancy. Since it’s my first one, I have no idea what it was like but I have a feeling I do now. It’s kinda like, “In the beginning….(insert biblical reference here)… there was cold shoe eating, slide on your butt, climb with your nails and lose a toe nail mud…and it was good.” This was a grass roots, a CORNFED Founder’s race. I didn’t do it for a medal (although it’s pretty), I did it for the accomplishment and I met some pretty darn good people along the way. Kinda restored my faith in mid-west culture.”

~ Melonie Judd  from the Cornfed!!! fb page 

There isn’t anything more to be said than what Melonie stated so eloquently.  This race was old school for sure.  They gave you a barbed wire crawl and two cargo net climbs.  After that it was old school kill you hills, dips, water pits, massive hay bales, pond swims, heavy log carrying. and straight forward nasty terrain. The weather alone should have turned people away.  Just barely in the 40’s over cast and windy enough to blow what little body heat you had into the next county.

There was no fan fare, no DJ not marketing flags strewn about making it look more like an amusement park than an OCR.  No Gladiators, no gimmicks or “signature” obstacles.  There was no inflatable finish line, shit the damn finish line was an obstacle. And this guy had to have his ass pushed over it!  The participants of this race were a special breed and they deserve all the accolades they can receive.  If you missed this race, you missed and epic weekend.   Don’t miss the next one.

POST RACE

This race is going to be the diamond of my race season.  Straight out of a kimberlite field still stuffed in quartz.  This diamond is more than in the rough it is still imbedded in rock.  No amount of polishing is going to make this rock shine, because it doesn’t need it.  If you can’t see this gem for its value you need to dig deeper within yourself.

At the end of the day I was privileged to meet many of who I can truly call my Corn Fed family.  Nathan Deaver and his wife Mary and their children.  Jonathan Nolan and wife Laura. Gary Cates 3rd place winner!   Storm Chaser Tim White and Mike from Syracuse.  Jason Moss, Christopher Kalfa, Denise Healy-Hall, Christie Berg-Nelson, all the Kendall’s.  Hobie Call as a person and not a name.  And of course many of the Spartan race staff.  Tommy Mac, Andy Weinberg, Jeremy and the uncrushable Todd Sedlack.  I am missing so many others I feel aweful not mentioning them.  Lastly I would like to thank my MASpahtens co-runners who drank the Corn syrup and came down with me Eric and Jeremy they made this happen for me because a 16 hour drive is not damn joke!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

HH-007 A storm in the desert

0530, 11 Feb 2012 Rawhide.  Chandler Arizona.  HH-007

Dispatches from the Storm Front.

Arizona, pre-dawn.  The darkened desert stretches for miles and seems to absorb the light from my rental cars headlamps.  The ever expanding darkness is not a comfort.  Coyotes really are howling in the distance, otherwise I had the area to myself.  Off in the distance the coyote pack was getting really fired up now.  Those little desert tricksters, they definitely knew something I didn’t.  I’m sure they’re on Joe DeSena’s payroll.

Shortly more cars begin to arrive.  People started lacing up shoes, turning on headlamps, mowing down powerbars and prepping for the unknown.  Though the darkness we could hear “Everyone lets form it up!”  I know the voice.  Its a measured thoughtful voice.  Much like that of a college professor.  You know the voice, its the kind of voice that asks ridiculously hard questions with an even, relaxed tone because he knows all the answers.  Its Joe D, he must have rode in on the backs of his howling coyotes.

Dispatch note number 1:  Although they tell you not to be late, being early is not a prize.

So while we wait for other HH’ters to arrive and get themselves set; we burpee, we jumping jack, we yoga, we do not wait standing still. As 0600 approaches we here “Tommy, do we have everyone?”  Its a logistical question, it’s asked in that all knowing tone of a Senior Drill Sergeant.   The kind of tone that makes a statement in the form of a question.  Joe’s saying everyone that is present is all that will be going. The question didn’t require an answer.  Its go time.

With no regard to instruction our first task is beckoned.  “Break yourselves into 3 teams, preferably with people you don’t know!” 30 29 28 27…”Who’s the team Captain?”  Raising Micha Arnoulds hand I proudly proclaimed “Micha!”  26,25,24,23.  Micah went to retrieve something when “Whats the team name?” was asked.  “Street Team!” I responded.  Little did I know how well this fit our team.  There were at least  7 Spartan Race Street Team members on our team that ended up with 13 members. As for the other 2 teams;  Rattlesnake and the one that wasn’t Rattlesnake.  They were just plain awesome.  Watching people give their all is something that really should be experienced first hand.

Dispatch note number 2:  When you leave the comfort of your car for a Hurricane Heat you should treat it like you are combat jumping from a plane.

If you need it you better have it, if you have it you better need it.  We were told we would have a place to leave our bags, and we did, well into the HH.  But because of the distance between the start and the bag check there are currently a few cell phone customers who are replacing water logged cell phones.  Oh well it is the Hurricane Heat.

This is Spartan Race.  This is the Hurricane Heat.  This is madness.  As we gleefully follow Joe D and Tommy Mac into the darkness it occurs to me that none of this makes any sense.  Its dark, its the desert, there are things out there that do go bump in the night.  I’m not a strong runner and I question the level of my fitness every time I leave the house.  With all this on my mind, into the darkness I ran following a man who has been quoted as saying “Marathons are cute”.  Why am I doing this?  I don’t know.  But because I don’t know the why, I might as well try.

So we ran.  A short distance into the run we received our 5 team sandbags and team flag.  I was handed the Reservoir Dogs flag, after a few Tire Guys Death Race Camps this may be the lightest thing I have ever had to carry.  A flag is a rally point, it gives people a place to belong, a place to center on, it gives purpose.  I felt honored.  Team Street Team under Captain Micha came together quickly, and this was awesome to behold.  Strangers only moments before were now comrades.  Teamwork was instantly second nature. accountability was paramount, numbers checks were held often.  Sandbags were rotated out regularly.  I don’t think anyone was ever over burdened by them.  Obstacles were approached, crushed and left for dead.  The energy was palpable, no one ever lacked for support or encouragement.  Feed us more Joe!  We love it.

If you have done a Spartan Race you know the obstacles.  There are things to go under, over, and through.  Cargo nets to assail, ropes to climb, ropes to pull.  Heavy things to lift or to carry or to drag.  What I wasn’t prepared for was what made this Spartan event epic.  It was the apocalyptic amount of water obstacles. This is the desert for crying out loud!  We swam rivers, jumped in holes filled with water, swam under bridges and trudged like Army Rangers though a water and debris filled drainage ditch.  We forded the river, swam across it, and swam down it with the current.  Later we walked up the river against the current.  In the drainage ditch Spartan Race managed to get the obstacle so low over the ditch you had to put your head under this awful water to navigate it.  Through all of this I couldn’t have been happier!

Dispatch note number 3:  Commitment is something you can read about, but to see it, to be part of it:  Is to be a part of greatness.

The Hurricane Heat is what its all about for me.  It is the culmination of doing what I do naturally in a Spartan Race.  This was my first HH and it will certainly not be my last.  A team is strong because of its commitment to a common goal.  I don’t know what our common goal was beyond having fun.  If that was the goal, our level of commitment far exceeded that of what we needed to achieve that goal.

Posted on Leave a comment

Tire Guys: Adventures in the Insanity.

Where do I start!  Well lets see, the Tire Guys; Jeff and Bruce Foster, these guys are insane.  I looked it up because the word insane is used so much in our daily life.  Here’s the wiki about insane: Insanitycraziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns.  Ok so we have the right word for this blog.  We will touch on this more.

First Jeff and Bruce are located in Lincoln Rhode Island.  A charming hamlet I have had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy only by the light of the moon.  This lunacy it seems is part of the training.  Of course I wouldn’t want to traipse around my town in broad day light the way we do during the Death Race camps.  However I’m quite sure the Tire Guys don’t care.

The Tire Guys provide these camps based out of their home and are supported by friends, family and the occasional on looker.  Death race camp number 3 also had the Fire Department and a Rhode Island State Trooper.  This brings us to the next wiki: Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms.  “FIRE!”  It is a natural and human constant that as mammals we have an aversion to fire.  We have a conceptual understanding of its raw and destructive power, and although we reap many benefits from it we know there is no controlling it.  So would setting over 50 pallets in a ring on fire be a “violation of societal norms”?  How about building a 50 foot long cinderblock and metal tunnel with a bunch of pallets on top set ablaze? What if the tunnel was in the ring of fire and you had to crawl under it?  Insanity established.

This fire ring/tunnel was merely a small part of a larger obstacle course the Tire Guys had set up around their property.  Suffice to say I have paid significantly more money for a less challenging OCR.  Without going into great detail there were, in no specific order, things to go under, over, up and through.  All with a pack and of course a log.  Their under was lower than any wire I’ve gone under at a race.   Conveniently built in a bog, so it actually got lower, muddier and wetter as the night progressed.  There was 25 feet of scaffolding that you, your pack, your log and a very large tire had to scale and come down.  No dropping anything.  There was drain pipe to crawl through, tires to flip, sand bags to move and 127 tires of various sizes to step through.  The real bitch.  The calisthenic station.  Two words about that:  The WORST!  I haven’t covered everything because its not important.  What is important is that you will use every single muscle to its point of exhaustion.  This is the warm up, it last usually about 5 hours.  If you only did this portion of the training you would get your moneys worth, you might leave satisfied but you would never see the real fun stuff.  Trust me this stuff is fun and it gets better.

The trick is to not where a watch.  Let someone else wear the watch and if you really need to know ask them.  Not having a watch means you don’t have a mental crutch.  Focus on the task at hand, break it into manageable pieces.  Our next task grab 2 tires.  I grabbed to moderate tires.  In hindsight tires with a larger side wall would have worked a lot better.  We jogged a half a mile with them, and then put them down on a ball field.  End to end we moved the tires across 300 yards and back, by standing on one, moving the trailing tire and then stepping onto it.  If you fell off 10 push ups.  The Tire Guys had me on my knees early this time, but I found a system and it worked.  I don’t know how long this took but I never want to do it again.  Once done back to the house we went.

At this point, I was pretty spent and the next task did not look like anything I wanted to do.  There were 5 gallon buckets filled with water and sealed with a lid and a rubber raft.  Because I am slow,  I got to use the buckets.  My more fit counter parts got to carry the inflatable white water raft.  It really  didn’t matter because for the next 12 hours or so we would be swapping out.  This is were being on the good side of insane comes in handy.  I have this exact set up at my house.  So I know carrying buckets sucks.  And of course this just dropped me even further behind.  But you have to be crazy like a fox.  I have carabiners and slings, I just attached those suckers to my pack and took the strain off my arms.  I wasn’t a whole lot faster but I didn’t need to stop either.

This phase goes on for hours and miles.  Stop when you need to.  Sometimes its a forced stop so we all get back together, other times you just need a break.  Task at hand.  Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.  Thankfully being on a street I could use light poles.  All I needed to do was make it to the next pole, or intersection, or what ever.  Sometimes I had a buddy some times not.

We arrived at out next “rally” point and the wonderful Sheri Foster was there.  We finally could drop our packs.  So we could go on a run!  Run!  Are you F***ing kidding me.  Well no pack is good, so off I went.  I made it one quarter mile maybe half who knows, who cares.  I figured I would either see them on their way back or eventually meet up with them.  And I did.  Mental challenge time.  Record the construction of children’s building discs, run back and reassemble it.  Ok I got this no problem but I wasn’t running anywhere.  So Captain Turtle finally got back in time to see the group leaving on the next task.  Modern Art assembled and I to was off with my cinderblocks, up a hill.  This sucked.  But task at hand.  Done.

Back to my pack, and where is everyone going?  Well they’re rested. Because every time I’m slow they rest.  So what’s the deal now.  Oh buckets again.  And where too?  Same path to the Modern Art.  These buckets were almost the death of me.  But the sun was coming up so that meant I only had about 12 more hours of this left.

At this point I will glass over the details for the sake of brevity.  There were some opportunities to buy coffee donuts with the pennies we were required to bring.  I didn’t I chose to rest.  There was another long walk with buckets and boat.  Then we arrived at the State Park.

Ever wonder why these guys are called the Tire Guys?  They were crazy enough to push, pull, drag, lift, carry and toss a huge tire up and down Mt Killington at the Spartan Beast.  How do you train for something like that?  Well you go to a very scenic, very hilly State Park, you look at all the wonderful trails that go around objects and stay on gentle sloping grades and you completely ignore them!  You push that tire up nasty grades and over rocky outcroppings.  You go up trails designed for mountain bikes to down, not up.  And if you think going up is hard try controlling these suckers going down.  My trick, partner up with the biggest guy who just loves this stuff and says this helps his back.  Also If you have the heaviest tire to begin with, and another team leaves there tire in the middle of the trail so they can go change clothes, take their tire.

With that accomplished it was back to buckets and the boat.  I was done with both by now and I really had lost a lot of my niceness.  Being aware of this and not wanting to become a “just add exhaustion a-hole”  I took the heavy-ass, block of wood; strapped it on my back and lit out.  This guy was tired of being last.  With one minor detour photo op, it was into our bathing suits and into the pond.  The frozen pond!  Simple task at hand; take a cinder block with a rope attached, go in waist deep and untie the knots.  HOLY CRAP!  Yes it was beyond cold.  Yes I did have to get out once, your block stays in.  Yes I did it!

For the round up we did change into fresh clothes, a mandatory carry item, and then we stood with out partner back to back where we were Velcro’d together with our packs on our chests.  I can’t begin to describe how awful this was, or how far we actually went.  Maybe a mile and a half.  Keys:  Task at hand, unbelievably good communication skills with your partner, patience. This bought us to the final road march.  Simple directions and we would be back at the Tire Guy compound, and done.

Not even close.  Once there we were tasked to break down all the equipment we used for the obstacle course.  Not really a bad task there were 10 of us and we were all so jacked about being done, and how awesome the Tire Guys are we were all happy to do it, have those Guinness’s we bought and toast our success.  Compound cleaned up and we were done…  Not!

Out come the eggs.  Ok guys 5 mile run with an egg.  Don’t finish the run and you get a DNF.  Break the egg and you get a DNF.  Did he say run?  Did he say 5k?  No he said 5 miles!  WTF!  Oh and the egg totally forgot about that.  Did I finish?  Hell yeah!  Was I last?  Nope, second to last.  Would I have run another 10 miles.  Nope but I would have walked it.

During all of this there is time to rest, eat, hydrate, adjust equipment and all that goes with it.  Jeff and Bruce have this set up so you can succeed, unlike the real Death Race which is designed for you to fail.  Peak Racing will do everything in their power to help you cripple yourself.  The Tire Guys Death Race Camps are designed to strengthen your resolve.  You on your own can strengthen your body, but your mind will quit long before your body.  That’s what these camps are about.

The last wiki:  In English, the word “sane” derives from the Latin adjective sanus meaning “healthy”. The phrase “mens sana in corpore sano” is often translated to mean a “healthy mind in a healthy body”. From this perspective, insanity can be considered as poor health of the mind, not necessarily of the brain as an organ (although that can affect mental health), but rather refers to defective function of mental processes such as reasoning. A Latin phrase for “sane” is “compos mentis” (lit. “of composed mind”), and a euphemistic term for insanity is “non compos mentis”.  Thats the long way of saying, you make bad decisions.  Of course this is completely subjective to the norms of the society in which we exist.  Are Death Race Camps insane?  To the uninitiated probably yes.  To those that enjoy the wonderful gifts of a strong mind and a strong body “mens sana in corpore sanoisn’t it insane not to use both to their maximum potential.