Solstizio Fit Blog Summer Death Race 2024 Recap

Summer Death Race 2024 Recap


How do you write a recap of something as complicated, chaotic but extremely powerful as Death Race? As much as I’ll try to describe it, words will not make justice to what it felt being there.

For a little bit of context, for first timers, Death Race is the original ‘Spartan” race. It was the first event that Joe de Sena, founder and CEO of Spartan, put together in his farm in 2007. His goal was to create a race that resembled life itself. Full of twists and turns, that can take you to your own extremes and more.

Death Races last anything from 40 to over 70 hours. No two Death races are the same. They provide no support. They don’t tell you when it starts. They don’t tell you when it ends. They don’t tell you what it will entail. They want you to fail and encourage you to quit at any time. They throw unending physical and mental challenges, many of them so extreme and insane that earn this race a lot of bad reputation. But for those who are brave enough to participate, it creates the perfect storm to grow and reborn.

Pre-Race

Arrived on Wednesday to our Airbnb just a few minutes from “The Farm”. Six of us crazy folk, doing Death Race, Hurricane Heat and Farm Experience. Because I was flying in, the rest of the team brought different things I needed for the race, and other stuff needed to be bought locally, so it was important to have that extra day in Vermont. The amount of things needed for Death Race is insane in itself! And there’s no way to get it perfectly right, there’s always something you would have liked to do differently. But that’s part of the game.

It was a great couple days where we got to bond together before we were going to be submitted to all the suffering. This time certainly helped later when we had to support and lift each other.

Friday: Race starts!

The day started early, with restless sleep. Since we were doing different events, we had different start times, but it all went seamlessly. We made it right at the time we were said, dropped our bins at the location indicated, and walked to check in. We were told we still needed to earn our bibs and we’re put to do some PT, which included trying out the Finisher by AretebyJW, a simple but versatile training tool.

After a while, in small groups, we were told to take our gear and walk to a check point, then another check point, then another, until we made it to the next stage. It wasn’t easy, leisure walking, we had to cross some swamp and bog, but pretty “normal” so far. Once arriving at the next stage we were divided into groups to do some labor. Clear the area, pile trash into containers, chop wood from fallen trees. It was physical work, but we all enjoyed it.

We did gear check and more PT fun with some old tires, while being shouted at and told to quit. I skipped most of it because we were working hard chopping wood. I became an expert at swinging the axe!

As we were working hard and followed instructions, they were handing out our bibs and sending us back through the same road we came, but with one small difference. We now had to low crawl, with all our gear. Yes, that included everything, our packs, the 50.5 lbs sandbag, the bucket, the piece of lumber, through mud, swamp, bog, rocks and all.

We got back to the base camp and were directed to the pond. Here is where we got to stitch our numbers to our bibs, using yarn and the bone needle. Once finished, we had to blow our boats and solve the cube while in the water. I did a pretty good job here that send me to the front of the pack. Some were not so fortunate and stayed on that pond for hours and hours!

I arrived fifth back at the registration table, where the physical challenges would start. We were put on teams of two and sent on 1/2 mile loops doing different things that were akin to some of the media challenges. Fireman carries, wheelbarrow walks, bucket carries, running with rocks inside our shoes, walking with the sandbag pressed overhead and more that I probably don’t remember. Here is where I started to fall behind. Our team was very slow in completing the wheelbarrow and we basically spent the whole night, non-stop, doing the very same thing, while the rest of the competitors got different things to do. My shoulders, wrists and fingers were destroyed and it would cost me later.

We had a small break in the night (hard to say how late, maybe midnight?) where we got to climb to Shrek’s Cabin, about one mile up the mountain with 1000ft elevation gain. We met the Hurricane Heat participants up there and the Krypteia and Race directors did a nice honoring ceremony for Dr. Jeff Godin, one of the most influential people in the SGX/Spartan training world, who passed a few days before. I never had the chance to meet him, but I’ve been definitely touched by his work through others. It was a very touching moment that also gave us the chance to rest for a few minutes, something that is usually not possible during Death Race.

Once we arrived back down it was back to business all night with the wheelbarrow crawl. The (probably only) good thing about these laps is that they gave us the chance to access our bins often, so I made an effort to keep my nutrition and electrolytes on point, and also change my socks at the 24hrs mark. In the morning of Saturday, after more than 12 hours of the same, it was finally time to move to other exercises, headstand (which I hate), side planks (harder with swollen wrists), running with pebbles inside the shoes and blindfold squats. I didn’t get the chance to do all that was required which means I didn’t have many cube’s pieces.

But I didn’t pay attention to it then, no point in dwelling on something out of your control. One thing you quickly learn is to focus on the task at hand, don’t think about the past or the future. Just get to work.We were asked to get our “beverage”. The gear list asked for an 8oz bottle of Tabasco sauce or Clam juice. I figured we would be drinking it, and although it sounds nasty, I chose the clam juice. Good call, we had to drink it whole, then pencil roll to the other side of the field. Definitely a challenge not to puke, but I was ok. The issue was next. We had to handstand walk a good distance and back, but not only I have never practiced this, my wrists were gone at this point and I could only do some sad donkey kicks that took forever and almost sent me to the very last spot.

Time to die

It was time for the big culling. There’s usually one challenge designed to take out the most people possible, and this year was the raw egg challenge. We had to pick a rock out of a bucket full of water(?) and based on the number, go to one of five stations to read and memorize a phrase, then back. The catch? We had to go using a certain “move” while holding a raw egg in our mouth. Break the egg, you eat it. Take it of your mouth, you eat it. Look at the race officers wrong, you eat it too. And 300 burpees for penalty in any of these cases. And even after going to the station and back, yes, you eat it. Whole, raw, with its shell. No questions asked. Lots of people tapped at this point, whether from raw tiredness or disgust for eating the eggs after the tabasco/clam.

The moves where, in order, 1) headstand walks but with the feet inside a bucket. For most people this became a sort of crawl that was relatively fast and efficient. 2) crab walk with a bucket on your head, so you were completely blind. 3) run with all your gear on tow (backpack, sandbag, bucket and lumber included) 4) burpee long jumps 5) pencil rolls.

At this point my hands were useless and I was ready to tap at the sight of more crawling. I even came to talk to one of the race officers to tell them I just couldn’t do it. His response? He said he didn’t want my bib, but the other officer did. The one that had been taunting me all day. The one that told me to quit, that I didn’t belong there (not personal, I know, just part of the experience). Only thinking of giving him the satisfaction gave me a boost. Not only I started doing the crawl, but I found my rhythm and ended up doing it faster than many and regained some ground. The hands still hurt and they were getting worse. But my resolve was stronger than ever. I was going to finish it! I memorized the phrase and went back, happily ate my egg and moved along. But here’s where my end started. I pulled the furthest station rock, one that was hard to get even with the eyes open, but I needed to do it while crab walking, backwards, blinded by the bucket in my head and an egg on my mouth.

I tried, fought hard. It was hard to even breathe and one of the officers mistook my attempt to get fresh air by cheating. I got punished by eating the egg and 300 burpees. Tired and defeated, the shear number is just made to make you quit. I was a burpee zombie for I don’t know how long. I lost count too many times, but at some point I crossed eyes with one of the teammates from the Airbnb and it was clear, we wouldn’t be eliminated here doing burpees. We had to fight. So once again, new energies came and I went back to my bucket and kept moving. I managed to find the station and memorize the phrase. But unfortunately it took too long, even as I tried to return with all my might, I didn’t make it in time. I was cut with most of the remaining competitors.

103 signed for Death Race, only 54 started. At this point, less than 30 remained. Only 7 were able to complete the egg challenge, for the rest of us was time to hand our bibs and go back. I was defeated, it was raining, I was cold and miserable. But I stayed behind, spoke with some of the race officers to try to earn my way back into the race. Nothing to be done, it was the race design this year, once out, you’re out. No skull for me…I lasted approximately 32 hours of soul wrenching, raw physical and mind strengthening challenges. I wasn’t happy with being eliminated so “early” (theoretically halfway, as this race usually lasts 70+ hours). But I was happy with my performance. Despite not having the strongest team during the laps I kept my integrity and finished the task I was given, no complaints, no questions asked, no comrade left behind. Despite my hands being destroyed, I kept pushing. No one could make me quit and I was eliminated while on the field, fighting until the last minute. Until an officer came to me and told me to take the bucket and walk back to base. I endured, I learned, I grew. I “died” figuratively, but came back stronger.

Post Death Race

I walked back to the Airbnb, under the rain, defeated but already reflecting on all that was accomplished. Met the rest of the crew, I was the last man standing. We started to share our own transformative experiences. And of course started to plan for next year. We’ll be back, stronger and ready for more. This doesn’t end until we say so.

For more on this edition of the Death Race, check Peak Races and Spartan Extreme Endurance social media accounts.

If you really want to know, out of the 103 who signed and 54 who started, only 4 finished the race. What they endured over the 16 or so hours after I was eliminated is their story to tell, not mine. Congratulations gentlemen! You earned that skull!

To all the Peak Races crew, Race directors, Krypteia and anyone involved in the organization and execution of this event. You are the best!

My most sincere gratitude to my teammates Nick, Henri, Vince, Ellen and Amelia. I chose to leave out your parts of the story, not because they were less important, but because it is yours, not mine. But each of you know how important you were in every moment. I’m so ready to do this all over again alongside you!

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1 thought on “Summer Death Race 2024 Recap”

  1. Carlos, great recap.. You crushed it out there.. Was proud to be along side you and thrive. It’s your skull next year!

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