Dirt in your skirt blog

Day 21… Live from Death Race

Posted on June 26, 2011 by Margaret Schlachter
Still in it Saturday Afternoon

The Death Race is over, at least for me. I am not sure if any competitors are still trudging through the Green Mountain of Vermont, but for me I am a tired and in much need of getting my homework done for Grad School next week. Somehow I am still awake after 37 hours and counting without my head hitting a pillow or even piece of floor. In the last 37 hours, I have run about 19 miles, gone to a baby shower (3 hours round trip of driving) and about 20+ hours helping out at the Death Race as a volunteer.

The Death Race is like no other race on the planet. It does not have a category, you cannot box it in. After spending much of the last four days interacting with competitors, organizers, volunteers, and spectators I can truly attest to this. I first arrived at the race Saturday morning after my own Spartan Beast training (12+ mile trail run all over Killington) just to check the whole scene out and see how the racers I had dinner with on Thursday night were fairing. When I first arrived around 10:00am most were still in the race. I wished them all good luck and told them to keep moving forward. I stayed until 2:30pm and spoke with many support crews and other Death Racers. The camaraderie out on the course and around the Amee Farm is second to none. Every competitor that emerged from the woods was treated with cheers by all, even other competitors, for this is not a race about winning for most it is truly about surviving, mostly yourself. True many tasks took great physical strength but it was truly the competitors mental grit that drove them hour after hour.

The only dryer in town

When I got back to the Amee Farm around 8:30pm, I saw Joe and asked if they needed any help. He immediately put me to work! I quickly moved from being a simple observer into being right in the thick of it all. I quickly found out that many more from our dinner party had withdrawn themselves, but still about half were plugging along at various speeds around the course. I spent most of the night around Spartan HQ’s helping with athlete check-ins and other various tasks. I was the “fresh” one on the team. Although my day had started at 4:30am, still I was fresher than most. What most people don’t understand is the volunteers function for 2-3 days with little more than 1-2 hour power naps at a time. It was almost like we had our own version of the Death Race – Volunteer Edition. We all bonded and became almost a family. The organizers, Joe and Andy, were great to all the volunteers and spirits stayed really high over the 45+ Hours most were there.

Joe Crupi, drilling his number into a log

I got to see the likes of amazing Death Race competitors; Joe Decker, Grace Cuomo Durfee, Hobie Call, and many many others while they competed in mentally and physically challenging tasks. Yes, I saw A LOT of wood chopped, it was a station right in front of me. They all pushed themselves to the limits! I was most impressed with many competitors will to finish, especially Megan Mays. Not sure if she has completed the race as I write this but her will was second to none. She was not in the front of the pack by any means, in fact spent most of the race traveling alone. She not only took on each task wearing a skirt but also with a smile. I became a Megan Mays fan this weekend!

Overall, I know many are sad Hobie didn’t win but we cannot take away from the amazing accomplishment of Joe Decker, 2x Death Race winner. The brothers from RI who road biked up to the race and finished 2nd and 3rd (unofficially, at least that’s the standings when I left). Grace Cuomo Durfee winning for the females and coming for 4th overall (again unofficial). And many many others who battled in the rain, cold, and mud, fighting hypothermia and the madness in all of our own heads when we get too deep inside. I only hope that when my time comes next year I am up to the challenges that Joe and Andy put in front of me. I plan to take it, “5 Minutes at a Time.”

Hobie Call chopping away

These athletes so inspired me that after 33+ hours of being awake I returned home not to take a nap but do an approximately 6.5 mile run on the trails of Killington in 1:03.41. My GPS died half way through, too much updating on Facebook to Dirt In Your Skirt from Death Race! Distance, today, was calculated off of where my GPS died and past runs maps, time was kept on my watch. It was a really fast run. The Death Racers really pushed me to explore all that I could do today. That and at this point my body is so pumped up on adrenaline, from being awake so long, that I could do almost anything! It’s amazing what the body can really do! Then a round of 18 holes of disc golf (I was in Zombie mode) at Base Camp Outfitters.

Distance: about 6.5 miles
Time: 1:03.41
Pace: 9:45 per mile

Thank you Death Race for reminding me what it is like to really live and live in the moment. The friendships forged over the last couple of days hold a special bond as you truly only understand the Death Race is you have been there and seen it first hand! 
Time to hit the books and pillow!
Joe Decker, winner DR 2011 with Joe Desena