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Death Race 2019 – Part 3

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Neil Murphy talks about his experience with the 2019 Death Race, and what keeps him coming back to all of these insane endurance events. Jason Barnes explains his road to Spartan, and what went into this year’s Summer Death Race. He also lets us know about the Peak trail races in Vermont throughout the year.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Ragnar Relay – Get out and get $80 any street or trail team relay using code ORM2019.

Show Notes:

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Death Race

Peak Trail Races

Team Regiment

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Ashley and Athena – Death Race 2019

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Ashley Seeger and Athena Ora survived 3 plus days and were 2 of the remaining few who finished this year’s Peak Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont.

Let’s talk to them about how it went down, and what’s next for them.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Savage Race – The best obstacles. The perfect distance. Classic and Blitz at every venue!

Show Notes:

Video of Athena winning The Death Race.

Ashley Seeger – Becoming BadAss

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Spartan Death Race 2019

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The 2019 Spartan Death Race took place between July 9-12, 2019. Enjoy this audio experience with Death Racers, DR Staff, and random people found in the woods.

Show Notes:

The Fear Guru

2013 Spartan Death Race Episode   2013 – DR Part II  2013 DR Part III

2014 Death Race Special – “Which Bus?”

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SOF Opinion of Agoge/GORUCK/Death Race

Candidates push and pull a make shift vehicle during the Team Week phase of the Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection course, Jan 22, in the woods of North Carolina near Camp Mackall. Team Week is designed to evaluate the candidate’s behaviors to determine their potential to be a member of the Special Forces Regiment. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler, USASOC Public Affairs)

I thought it was a good time to write this article since the most the recent events of Spartan 12 Hour Hurricane Heat, Agoge.  Despite what you may think, most of the people I talk to in Special Operations Forces (SOF) have never heard of GORUCK, Death Race, SISU, Agoge or other selection based events.

While they are aware of fitness classes loosely based on military training like “boot camps”, the thought of paying money to go through an event similar to selection is both confusing and bizarre.


As a member of the military we have to apply to go to selection events like Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS).  SFAS is what events like GORUCK (light/heavy/tough/selection) and the Green Beret Challenge are based on.  Other events bare less of a resemblance but the principles tend to be the same.  Things like unknown distance movements, completing tasks that seem impossible, carrying heavy things for long distances, navigating through the woods and sleep deprivation are all pulled from the world of military selection events.

However, when I tell other SOF guys that people pay money to go through a variation of selection, whether it is 8 hours like a GORUCK Light or an entire weekend like GORUCK Selection, they are baffled.  “People pay to go get treated like garbage?”  Yeah, they do.  My peers and I have trouble understanding it because for us, selection not only gives you access to a “club” but is a career change.  These events and the subsequent year plus of training will change your job title, give you increased pay, more responsibility and present you with future opportunities previously unavailable.


As someone who straddles both worlds, large parts of me agree with the rest of the SOF community, but I also understand why civilians pay to be treated this way.   There is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with completing these events.  It is of an intrinsic value that cannot be calculated via a price tag.

While you will never see me at these types of events as a participant being treated like garbage for 48 hours, I have been to several of them.  To me, it is just too much like work, except I am not being paid.  It opens very few (if any) doors and it is typically a watered down version of the real thing (based off what I have witnessed at a GORUCK event).  I am also as qualified, or more qualified, than the instructor leading the event.  I recently heard a podcast with one of the organizers of Agoge and he did not seem to have any exceptional physical ability or special qualifications, besides working at Spartan HQ that would bestow upon him the task to treat people so harshly.

Regardless of how poorly you are treated over a weekend, it is hard to compare these to selection events which typically last a couple of weeks and their subsequent courses, a couple of months.  The length and grind of military selection events add a significant amount of difficulty even if the shorter civilian versions can have moments that are harder.  I am not saying this to try to take away from people who have completed the Death Race or other similar events have accomplished, just trying to stress what makes them different.  For example, I have seen another soldier fall asleep standing up and hit the ground face first.  After waking up embarrassed with everyone laughing, he proceeded to do the same thing five minutes later.  That is definition of exhausted. Personally, I have also fallen asleep three or four times trying to open a piece of gum, which should take all of about 15 seconds.  I have also hallucinated in at night, a common occurrence when sleep deprived, usually consisting of seeing people and objects that do not exist.  But even worse I have hallucinated in broad daylight (I saw what resembled those hairless monkey creatures from Galaxy Quest), a truly bizarre experience.  Most information I have read suggests that extreme sleep deprivation results in parts of your brain “sleeping” while the other parts continue to function in an attempt to get rest.  What does extreme sleep deprivation mean? Ranger School says you average four hours of sleep a night for 61 days.  In actuality, it is more like six hours some nights and two hours on nights when you are patrolling, which still averages out to about four hours.

How do I explain the appearance of athletes like the current Spartan World Champion at Agoge?  Well, I would bet he received free entry to the event since he is part of the Spartan Pro Team.  I would be shocked if I found out he paid money besides maybe some travel costs for an event similar to selection.

For civilians looking to find their limits, challenge themselves and feel like what it means to be in a military selection course for a couple of hours, they are great.  Of note, we do not get treated the way you do in these events all the time, it is typically for a period of a couple of days or weeks.  Eventually the “torture” turns into training, which is also difficult but in a different way.  If you are fan of these events, go out there pay money to find your limits, but if you are looking for my coworkers or I to join you, we will just be cheering you on from the sidelines.


Photo Credits

First Death Race photo from

First SFAS photo from

Second Death Race photo from Mud Run Fun.

BUD/S photo from

Rifle PT SFAS photo from

Space Monkey photo from Galaxy Quest movie and

Final SFAS photo from

The Death Race – What It Means To Finish


We have a correction to make to yesterday’s Death Race posts. As the final burial was being prepared yesterday morning, we were on the phone with Peak Race founder Joe De Sena and this year’s Death Co-Race Directors Johnny Waite and Pete Coleman. They feverishly filled us in on what had taken place up to that point over the weekend. They also informed us of their intention to have 6 finishers.

Shortly after that, Johnny Waite had a change of heart, and had a conversation with all participants still in the race without Pete or Joe present.

If you have ever been to Pittsfield for the Death Race, you are aware that there are always amazing staff and volunteers to ensure that the participants have an amazing experience.  What they don’t have is an elaborate computer program called All Things Death Race. It is rather a lot of handwritten notes and personal/walkie talkie conversations. We have been covering it since 2012, and in that time, have witnessed things change on the fly consistently.Often times in the past, Race Directors Joe and Andy, were in heated arguments behind the scenes making determinations of what to do next, or what to do with certain racers. When the race starts, there is a general blue print, but once it begins, its a very fluid process. That is part of the Death Race magic.

This is how different racers in the same Death Race, can have very different experiences.

The Death Race is NOT a marathon, a triathlon, or even an obstacle race. It is, as Patrick Mies II has put so eloquently “The Mother Fuckin’ Death Race”

At 9:00am EST today, we reached out Johnny Waite, and here is what he told us.

“When we set out this year’s race, we structured it to have 6 people recognized as “Finishers”, each to receive a tombstone and a chance to distribute a share of the $80,000 charitable donation. Once again, we were blown away by the tenacity of the racers, and saw far more make it through the barefoot Bloodroot hike than we expected.

When we set the standard as nine laps of that hellish swamp/hill repeat, it looked like we may not even get our six, but people just kept going.

Ultimately, we plucked the top six from an unbelievably unstoppable group.

And then had the rest continue working in the pouring rain, on day 4 with zero sleep, digging graves for the finale, with no expectation of reward.

At that point, they had been told they were unofficial finishers.

Just before the “funeral”, we announced this status to the media, and that is what was reported. That said, a short time later, looking at 30 bedraggled souls, in suits, holding shovels, with dirty faces and dead eyes, I used my authority as Race Director to declare them, in fact, Official Finishers. Even if we didn’t have skulls to hand them, they did complete the standard of everything up to the required laps of the rock carry (9 for men and 5 for women).

The top six were recognized with the tombstones and the opportunity to allocate the donations.

I always appreciate the patience and diligence of Obstacle Racing Media when reporting on our events. It is a confusing, fast changing environment, and we as race directors are often guilty of not providing timely information. Thanks for working hard to get the news out, and to update it as the fog lifts.

A quick comment. There are so many “words” now that we have assigned, intentionally or unintentionally, meaning to in this race. Winner. Finisher. Unofficial Finisher. DNF. DNQ. DNS. DFL. Medical Drop. None of them really matter. Did you show up? You know. Did you toe the line? You know? Did you give it absolutely everything you had? You know. Did you conduct yourself with integrity? Beyond that it is all blah blah blah. That’s just my two cents worth.”


When Joe De Sena was reached this morning for comment, he told us “If Johnny is good, I am”

Congratulations to all finishers.

Daniel Kaali
Eric Anderson
Dallas Daost
Scott Gregory
Chris Rice
Mike Shadow
Wynona Luz
David Magida
Matthew Waller
Kevin Brodsky
Margaret Seymour
Jack Lynch
Dylan Davis
Joshua Fiore
Alexander Stardal
George Dennison
Christopher Humphries
Vincent Spencer
Christina HB Armstrong
Brian Davidsen
Ed Shelton
Anthony Dorsey
Aaron Brazier
Lauren Cisneros
Thomas Sherber
Richard Dymond
Scott Weir
Ian Nichols
Corey Herzlich
Chiemi Heil
Jessie Jamnik
Radostina Townsend
Shane Ellison
Bob Halpin
Tera Spencer


We good? Now, everyone go sign up for Agoge, which looks to pick up where Death Race leaves off.

Death Race Finish 2015

We can’t possibly give you an exact play by play of everything that has happened since Friday 2am.

We can give you some broad strokes, as we are receiving this info fast and furious from Joe De Sena, Pete Coleman, Johnny Waite and others from Peak Races on the ground in Pittsfield, and are attempting to keep it as accurate as possible.

This year, the theme of the Death Race was “Life”.

The participants were “born” by having to breath through a tube under water inside of sleeping bags. Then they took their first steps in their undies, then they were all tied together like school children and went on a 30 mile hike to Bloodroot.

Those that stayed in then spent their childhood and adolescent years in “school”.  In school, they had to learn or they wouldn’t get to go on. They spent hours rolling, bear crawling, flipping, etc. There was chinese and latin. Oh, and there were leeches.

If they “graduated”, they went on to their “working years”, which was having a 3rd of their body weight on their backs and doing hard labor and doing mile laps, which ended at midnight last night.

Side note: As if being awake this long, and working so hard wasn’t enough, the weather did not help. There have been heavy wind and rain that has come in for the majority of the 2nd half of this year’s race.

It was pre-determined that there would be 6 “Finishers’ prior to the Death Race even starting. So when midnight came around, the lead male had done 9 laps. The lead female had done 5 laps.

The top 3 males in order were Daniel Kaali, Eric Anderson, and Dallas D’Aoust.

The top female is Wynona Luz.

Those people then got to rest and reflect in their “Golden Years of Life”.



There were then 2 spots remaining for Top Finishers.

So the remaining 34 participants had to participate in something called “4000 Ways to Fuck Up A 10 Miler”, which consisted of 1000 burpees, situps, squats, and pushups. Those that had raised a lot for charity got massive discounts on the burpees. The fastest finisher was Scott Gregor and he became the 5th finisher.

There was one spot left, but the next two decided to finish together and were given a tie for 6th. They were Chris Rice and Mike Shaddow.

Those 7 were then buried alive. Prior to being buried, they had to read their own eulogies.

Prior to the race beginning, participants were asked to have a friend receive an email at a certain time of the race. Turns out that email was asking the friend/family member to write their eulogy.

We asked Joe De Sena what the remaining 31 participants receive. He told us they are being called “Unofficial Finishers”. They do not receive a skull or a tombstone, but they get to keep their bib and they also receive “notoriety on finishing the hardest death race”.

The 7 finishers were let out of their graves after a certain amount of time and handed not skulls, but headstones.

Joe also wanted to be sure to give us a list of names of all the help he got this year making this Death Race happen.

He told us

“You need to know about all of the amazing people that put this on. Luke Gregory, Robin Crossman, Pete Coleman, Johnny Waite, Mark Webb, Josh Zitomer, Jason Jaksetic, Marion Abrams, Darren De Hares, Norm Koch, Eric Ashley, Bryan Selm, Melissa Kaufman, Moni Mobley, Peter Borden, Verna Borden, I may be forgetting some more”.

We then had to ask the big question:

“Was this the last Death Race?”

He told us:

“I thought it was done, but when I see people that are so inspiring like Amelia and Olof. When I see such unrelenting people like Patrick Mies, that when there is nothing but carnage around and Patrick is smiling and saying “It’s the motherfuckin’ death race dude!”

I may want to keep doing it but rethink this whole thing

Can we maybe teach the whole field something without failing so many?

For the last 8 months, we have been working with the military to create The Spartan Agoge. This may be the next step. Where it’s not about all the DNFs. It’s about learning and succeeding.

So, as always with The Death Race. More to be revealed…


Left to Right-Wynona, Eric, Mike, Chris, Daniel, Scott, Dallas


We have received new information, as of June 29th, at 9:00am EST. For full details on the update see this article.


As of 06/28/2015 7:00PM EST, courtesy of Peak Races Founder Joe De Sena, we have the list of finishers for the final Death Race. We had previously stated there was 31 finishers but it turns out there is 35 total finishers.


[gdoc key=”” datatables_order=’%5B%5B 2, “desc” %5D%5D’]





*This article was updated on June 29th for full details on the update see this article.