"The timorous may stay at home."
~ Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 483 (N.Y. 1929)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Winter Death Race: FAQ's

Post-Winter Death Race, I've received tons of questions about the race, my experience, and life in general. I do not claim any special DR knowledge--hell, I'm still a rookie myself. However, I love a good FAQ section, so I thought I'd recreate that here, Death Race-style.

(1) Did you really do 3000 burpees? God, that's dumb. 

The burpee board, Sunday morning
Yes, all finishers were required to do 3000 burpees. And yes, it's totally dumb. But that's the point. Their goal was to break you mentally (well, and physically). 3000 burpees is utterly stupid, but you do them and you move on. That's the Death Race for you--some things are going to suck. Or all.

(2) Can you give a play-by-play of the race?

Nope. Not my blog style, and I find it rather boring to tell it like that. But at the end of the race, the finishers had done 3000 burpees, 3 mountain loops (25+miles with some other running), chopped and stacked wood, completed two bikram yoga classes, carried and rolled logs, carried snow, carried buckets of river water, and done a water submersion in a frozen pond.  The rest you can figure out--it's part of the Death Race mystique.

(3) Why are you in just a sports bra in all the pictures?

Those pics were taken in a 10 minute period of time, and I was really hot from doing thousands of burpees. For 99% of the 33 hours, I was fully clothed.  I'm not a whore nor am I trying to draw attention to myself. And yes, I do have some pit hair showing. That happens when you are 30 hours into a race and sweaty and unshowered. Deal with it.

(4) Which was harder, World's Toughest Mudder or the Winter Death Race?

Lawyer answer: it depends. They are two entirely different races so it's impossible to compare. Both were hard in their own ways, but I found the Winter Death Race way more physically and mentally challenging (and satisfying).

(5) Did girls have different standards in the WDR than boys?

Nope. I did the same exact tasks as all the men. Technically, I think women only had to split 50 pieces of wood instead of 70, but I didn't know which piles had how many, so I grabbed any of them. And with the bucket carry, I could lose up to 4 inches of water instead of 2 inches. But I only lost an inch, so it didn't matter anyway. 

(6) How was Joe D. as a bikram instructor?

Motivating, though he could work on his zen-like presence. I believe his phrase for hands-to-feet pose was "Grab your heels. Now pull--pull like a motherf*cker!!" And we did awkward pose for 60+ seconds. That's got to be a new record.

(7) Did you sleep? 

Well, we had forced "naptime" for an hour or so where we were told to lie down in the hoop house on the dirt floor and make no noise. That's a Death Race first, apparently. I was too petrified (and too amped and ready to go) to sleep during that time, but there was definitely some snoring going on.

(8) I thought the race was only supposed to be 24 hours. 

First lesson of the Death Race: there are no rules. There are no expectations, and you can never count on anything. I'm fully expecting the Summer Death Race, which says "up to 48 hours" to go 60-72+. I'm definitely not booking my flight back to Chicago the day after I think it should be done (lessons learned).

(9) So you finished in 32 hours, 21 minutes. How did you know when you were done? 

Joe and Andy said "congratulations, you finished."

Well, I came down off the mountain from my third loop, fully expecting to have to get back in the frozen pond and move on to the next task. So it was a nice little surprise to hear that I was done. I suppose I was quite sure how to react--in fact, I offered to do more burpees. Whee!

(10) How did you know how to train for this?

I didn't. That's the beauty of these races.
(11) Did you get tired?

To be honest, not really. The lack of sleep didn't really affect me considering we were moving and engaged at all times. Well, except for that last climb up the mountain in the dark. I thought I saw a witch and screamed. Turned out it was a tree stump. So apparently hallucinations do kick in at about 30 hours.

(11) Was the water submersion cold?

Well, it was March 3rd and the pond was frozen over. You do the math. There's some great video of some of the submersions--I can't watch it's so painful.

(12) How did you keep up your spirits? 

There were actually very few moments when I WASN'T having fun. I had a blast. Perhaps that's because I was singing to myself for a good portion of it (Kanye was the artist of choice, though Jay-Z & Swizz Beats "On to the Next One" was my personal anthem), which hopefully didn't annoy my fellow racers too much (though most rebuked my attempts to get them to join in a singalong). 

Exhibit A: Fun-having
In all honesty, my fellow racers kept my spirit up. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the adventure/obstacle racing world is a crew of stand-up, incredible people. We even managed to have fun during burpees (See Exhibit A, though Bryan didn't look like he was having too much fun).

(13) So should I do a lot of burpees to prepare for the Summer Death Race?

Do what you want, but it will do you no good. You could also get really good at pig wrestling. Or Pogo-sticking. That might also do you no good.

(14) That looks awesome. Should I do the Death Race?

Absolutely not. 

(15) Any tips for finishing? 

Yes. Don't stop until they tell you that you are finished. 

Good people post-race at the Pittsfield General Store


  1. Amelia -

    Couldn't have come close to writing it this well, but perfectly answered in all ways...well except for no one thinking I have loose morals.


  2. I can HEAR you when you write now. Like you are in my kitchen reading this aloud to me. I love it! Awesome post!

    It's remarkable that you DO what you do and it's awesome to hear how you talk about it. Genuine, real, funny, and powerful.