For some, running an infinite amount of miles, swimming only God knows how long and never knowing when the end is near would sound insane, but for Fort Leonard Wood Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Emily, it is the chance of a lifetime.
“Most people do marathons or triathlons or half-marathons,” said Emily. “The guys that created this wanted to get something that pushed you even more. I am doing this to prove to myself that I can finish.”
The Death Race has been held annually since 2005, in Pittsfield, VT, on average only 15% of the competitors finish the event.
“Some of the past events have been to chop wood for four hours,” said Emily. “Last year's theme was religion so they would hike 400 feet up the side of a mountain, give them a Bible verse, send them down the mountain and at the bottom they would have to recite it. If they messed up they had to go back up and do it again.”
This race, unlike some others doesn't just focus on the physical side but also the mental side. During the Death Race, competitors may be asked to chop wood for two hours, carry a 20 pound stump around for hours, lift 10-30 pound rocks for five hours; build a fire, cut a bushel of onions, crawl through mud under barbed wire, or after 20 hours of racing, memorize the names of the first 10 U.S. Presidents or a Bible verse, hike to the top of a mountain and recite them back in order.
For Emily this will be the first time he has competed in this event but he wont go it alone as his wife, Angela, will alos be competing with him.
“It wil be great to run this race with my wife,” said Emily. “I just want both us to finish and to be healthy when it is over.”
Most endurance races have a detailed map and competitors know what to expect and when it will be over, but the Death race has no maps and the challenges are kept secret. For the average person not knowing what to expect or when it will end is enough to make you want to quit.
“Most of this race is mental,” said Emily. “You just have to keep focus and not let your mind tell you that you are though. The worst part though will be not knowing what is next. I know on the packing list they told us to bring knitting needles so I have no idea what that will be used for.”
The race is laid out through 40 miles of Vermont woods and will include 15 to 20 different challenges. But if you do not know what the challenges are, how do you prepare for them?
“I competed in the Bataan Death March earlier this year and I have been running and swimming,” said Emily. “I have also been going over some knitting techniques just in case I have to knit socks or something.”
Emily not only has to get in shape for this race he also had to write an essay explaining why he wants to be in the race.
“Part of the process to be in this was an essay,” said Emily. “I guess that is part of their way of knowing if you are actually serious about competing.”
Emily will be part of a team that is going to compete with all money that they raise going to the Wounded Warrior Program. The Death Race will take place on June 15 but there is stil time to donate to their team. If anyone would like to donate the website is: http://wwpproudsupporter.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=308932&lis=0&kntae308932=84F10D4C26084C4295ADB925A34A9116&supId=339059709.