The World’s Most Excruciating Race, And You’re Invited!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When Pheidippides dropped dead after his history-making jaunt from Marathon to Athens, we thought those 26.2 miles were the extent of human endurance. But then came the ultra-marathons. Fifty and one hundred-mile races were added to the mix. Well “thons,” meet Death Race: part of the circuit-series of Spartan Race Inc. that eat their linear race counterparts for breakfast. With a web address of, and only a mere 10% of competitors able to finish, the grueling Death Race would quite frankly, whip Pheidippides’ bum.

Held once a year, Death Race recently took place in Pittsfield, Vermont. It started at 6:00 p.m. on June 24, and ended 3:00 p.m. on June 26 — a 45-hour duration that commenced with competitors dead-lifting 100,000 pounds worth of stones non-stop for 6 hours, then hiking upstream in waist-deep, 45-degree water. Then they had to carry a lit candle a quarter mile. Lose the flame and start over again. Add pond swimming, intelligence tests and dragging 40-p0und logs they chopped themselves up a mountain, and you can see why only 35 out of 155 athletes were even able to finish.

Co-founder and race organizer Joseph DeSena explains the method behind the Death Race madness. “Life is not a straight line. Spartan Race returns competitors to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life.”

To uphold the notion of unexpected challenges, unique race obstacles are held in secrecy until the competitors are actually completing them. Therefore, they cannot train specifically for the event. Racers have no idea what to anticipate, and they are ignorant as to how long the race will last. Usually, endurance athletes thrive on knowing where the light at the end of the tunnel lies, and not having a detailed map of the race is excruciating.

So even after reading the details of Death Race, are you still bent on trying a Spartan Race? Well, there is only one Death Race per year, but try the lesser, but still agonizing levels of Spartan Races ranging from 5-10 kilometers in length: the Spartan Sprint, Super Spartan and Spartan Beast. Twenty-nine races were planned for 2011 across the U.S, Canada and England, so you still have a chance to register.

Godspeed, and in the words of King Leonidas from the film 300: “This is Spaaaartaaaa!”

[Hobie Call crawling under wire by Spartan Race Inc.]

By Jenna Blumenfeld


About the Author

Jenna Blumenfeld, (Jenna Ogden Blumenfeld when she’s in really big trouble) hails from the wee state of Connecticut. Although her childhood dream of becoming a bug doctor — with a specialization in ladybugs — has gone unfulfilled, she is content writing about travel, cuisine and culture. A vegetarian, she currently resides in the food hub of Boulder, Colorado. Read more of her food-centric writing at

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