Dirt in your skirt blog

Death Race 2012 – Part 2 – Quitting

Posted on June 20, 2012 by Margaret Schlachter

Part 1 – The Race

Quitting the Race

I could come up with 100 excuses for quitting the race, I could blame my macerated feet, my  ailing hips, my blah blah blah and go on for a million reasons. I could blame the space in-between my two ears. But really the reason I dropped so early was about heart. My heart was not in this race, it hadn’t been for months. I knew it deep down but wasn’t allowing myself to believe it. Early on in the race in the midst of one of the burpee sessions I stepped away from my group for a moment and sought out Joe and Andy. I took a few moments with Joe and Andy and asked them how much they wanted me to finish. It was in this moment Joe told me if I wanted to quit I had to talk to him first. That was the moment I realized I was doing the race for all the wrong reasons.

I spent the entire night trying to convince myself I wanted to race as the night progressed it became more and more evident I wasn’t racing for me. I tried and tried to get my head in the game. Somewhere in the middle of the night I realized I was doing this because everyone wanted me to and my greatest fear in the race was never not finishing but letting down all those who wanted to see me finish. My own desire to finish had taken a backseat to those around me’s desire for me to finish.

For the past two weeks I have literally not been able to go anywhere without people wishing me luck in the race or saying I was going to take it home. The pressure I had on my was felt from a mile away. The well wishes before the race from friends, family, current and former athletes, blog readers, and even other racers placing bets on me taking the whole thing. I could not get a cup of coffee in town without having people asking if I was ready for the race. I know everyones intentions were meant in only the best way but the pressure mounted and my interest in actually racing wained.

So maybe the Death Race defeated me, some will probably read it that way but for me it was the first time I took a real stand and walked away from something when I didn’t have my heart in it. I wasn’t doing it for me. When I finally realized this late into the evening, I knew I had two options keep going and do what everyone else wanted and expected me to do or I could do what I wanted to do and be my own person and stop racing.

At some point in the night the light clicked on in my head and I realized I didn’t need to continue to race I had nothing to prove. In the last year I had completely changed my life and didn’t need a race to validate what I do in life. It was while carrying buckets of gravel I knew what I needed to do. I had my cameraman with me following and filming all night he and I sat by the lake and discussed my options. He knew I wasn’t in it and was supportive of whatever I wanted to do. It was around this point emotions took over.

As I walked down the hill towards Andy knowing what I was about to say in front of all my peers and many of my closest friends it was hard to hold back the tears. I picked up my bucket and handed it to Andy and told him I didn’t need it anymore and that I was out of the race. He said, “Really?? Are you sure?”. This is when I started to cry and my sense of disappoint to everyone overwhelmed me. He asked again if I was sure, I knew I was.

A few minutes later Andy handed me a beer and I started to relax and composed myself. I pulled my gear together and headed up the driveway having to pass some of my closest friends and tell them I was out. This was the hardest part telling people who had thought I would go all the way that I had let them down and quit. As we sat and waited for the van I headed back to the camp to make sure it was coming and that’s when I ran into Joe.

Conversation with Joe

I had broken the unwritten rule Joe and I had made before the race, I had stopped listening to him and had hadn’t talked to him before I quite. The first thing he asked was if I had done all the tasks, I had. Then the second thing he said was I didn’t quit. We had a conversation and I found myself pulling my gear together and literally running past competitors with him. I was back in the race for a short time. I continued to race for a few more miles heading back towards Pittsfield.

I got to the point on the trail where it was just me by myself no one else around and that’s when I knew the decision to quit had been the right one. I turned around, texted my boyfriend to make sure the van didn’t leave from the camp without me and ran back with a smile on my face for the first time since Thursday. I spoke with Jack Carey briefly on the way down and he had never heard of someone quitting three times before. At least I gave them a Death Race first!


People do the Death Race for many reasons, and many are the right reasons. I was racing for all the wrong reasons. I learned you can’t race a race because someone else wants you to do it. You have to have the fire and passion from within to race and especially with the Death Race to succeed and finish. As I said before Joe and Andy said I would learn something about myself in this race and something I learned.

If you aren’t racing for yourself and the love of the race then you have nothing and all you are left with is a hollow experience. The heart needs to be there and mine just wasn’t. To all those who I met during the race you are all great and wonderful. I loved spending time with friends old and new. And finally thank my boyfriend who acted as cameraman for me and followed me in the woods for almost 24 hours and about thirty miles.

I regret nothing from this race and took away many great lessons. Some may still not understand my reasons for quitting, some will call me weak, people draw their own conclusions. I think only other races will truly understand what it is like. I hated quitting but would have hated it more if I had continued use because someone wanted me to do it. This post was extremely hard to write and even harder to live through, to those who saw me right after I quit and didn’t understand you now know the reason. I didn’t need to explain it but it’s an important part of my journey in life.

However, my Death Race experience wouldn’t end for another couple days.