There’s Always Something Else To Do


Lately, I’ve been feeling like a big shot.  After all, I have recently run a marathon and I routinely cycle distances that leave most of my coworkers (and keep in mind I work for the Department of Defense) shaking their head.  This year I’m hoping to push my limits even further with a planned ride of 300 km, another marathon, and a couple triathlons to boot.  I’m an important person and I remind people of that at every opportunity.

But just when I was beginning to think I had achieved something, I was reminded that there is always somebody out there who can put you to shame.  I was asking a coworker what he intended to do for his big event this year and he replied, “I’m going to do The Death Race.”

Death Race?

Truth be told, I have no illusions of my own importance.  I know there are PLENTY of events out there more strenuous than my humble century rides and marathons.  For example, the Ironman series helps those people who are tired of century rides and marathons by combining the two events and throwing in a two-mile swim for good measure.  That’s a good day’s work to be sure.  But when Ironman races become blase, what’s an athlete to do?

Enter The Death Race.

Run by the people who organize the increasingly popular Spartan Race obstacle courses, Death Race meets once a year in Vermont to torment the few hundred people willing to take their challenge – to run an obstacle course of undetermined length for an unannounced time, usually around 60 hours.  Not only is the distance and the time unknown to the participants, but the obstacles are also not announced in advance and are known for their exceptionally high levels of deviousness, including:

– chopping wood for two hours.

– standing in a freezing drizzle, counting out 1,250 pennies, then putting $5 worth in a bag, watching an official throw your bag into a pond along with two decoy bags.  Then diving into the ice-cold water to retrieve the correct bag.

– reading a list of 10 U.S. Presidents, hiking 10 miles through the woods with a 70-pound pack, then reciting the list of presidents in the order you read them.

– organizers often tell contestants that they’ve been disqualified when they have not, just to see if they’ll quit.

There’s mud, fire, barbed wire, manure, water, and all manner of exciting challenges.  Rarely do contestants know precisely when the race will even start.  In some years, pre race meetings held the evening before turned out to be the start of the actual event.  Typically, fewer than 20% of the contestants will finish the race.  If you want to learn more about Death Race, you can visit their website site with the appropriate name of

So, if merely competing in an Ironman is becoming a bit mundane, there is always The Death Race.  I think I’ll pass on this for now.  After all, I haven’t found a single story about the event that involves cycling.  So just how tough can it be?

And for those who haven’t “liked” my new FaceBook page, here is a gentle reminder:

There And Back Again On FaceBook

9 thoughts on “There’s Always Something Else To Do

    1. Not exactly my cup of tea either, but then again people look at me with bemusement when I tell them with a straight face I enjoy cycling all day.

  1. These types of a “alternative races” have been springing up. Around here I keep hearing about Tough Mudder. It’s sort of the opposite vibe of most “stuffy” endurance races.

    It’s pretty obvious that the smallest, lightest guys win most endurances races, and lots of guys don’t want to be skinny little dudes, so after trying a few 5Ks or tri’s or whatever and realize they can’t compete in those, this stuff that includes physical challenges that require total body strength as well as cardiovascular fitness seem like a good idea.

    Honestly if cyclocross got some mainstream attention people would be lining up to do it. Its really the same thing but in a cycling version. Overall fitness and bike handling trump weight.

    1. An interesting perspective, Matt. The smaller guys tend to win the cycling events, to be sure, but I am always struck by how much more “symmetrical” the triathletes’ builds are. They actually have muscles above the waist. And long distance runners tend to be a bit on the tall side.

      I do think cyclocross would be more appealing to Americans than road racing. The events are of shorter duration, the crowds are crazy, and there’s plenty of mud. Lots to like there!

    1. Nobody has died yet, although the organizers go to some effort to point out that somebody COULD die. I’m not sure how much of that is marketing hype and how much is reality.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s