The Last Death Race?


Last July, ORM published a series of articles about the future of The Death Race.

To bring you up to speed, a few days after the last Summer Death Race ended, Joe De Sena, said that it was the last one.

Andy Weinberg, the man who had co-led every Death Race with Joe, since it’s inception, said that registration was open for 2015, and that people should still sign up.

A legal battle has begun since that neither party is talking about on the record.

Here is what we can tell you:

There is a Summer Death Race that begins tomorrow put on by Peak Races.

Andy Weinberg is not currently employed by Peak Races or Spartan Race.

Andy Weinberg and Jack Cary created The Endurance Society in August of last year. That company has already begun producing races. This weekend (yes, the same weekend as the Summer DR), they are putting on an event called Sine Nomine.

If you want updates on The Death Race. The hashtag has been #peakdr. You can also follow updates on the Peak Facebook Page.

If you want updates on Sine Nomine, there aren’t any. Jack and Andy have decided that no one in the race can talk about it.

We reached out to Joe De Sena this morning to ask him if this was the official swan song. He told us

Is it the end for DR? Has it run its course? I’m not 100 percent sure yet obviously leaning toward it being the last race.

I reserve my decision for after this years epic event!

Bonus Material: Amelia Boone shares her thoughts on Death Race.

This weekend marks the final Death Race. But for those of us who have been a part of the race in the years since its inception, we all know that it's never really over – it lives on in the friendships and bonds we forged, the tears we shed, the lessons we learned about human nature, and ultimately, about ourselves. Without a doubt, there has been no other race that challenged me, shaped me, and brought out both the best and the worst of me, like the Death Race has done. In my five winters/summers out there, I have laughed, cried, hallucinated, gotten frostbite, and mangled more cords of wood with an axe than you can imagine. I have swam miles in a cold reservoir, hiked Bloodroot countless times (sometimes with a canoe or rock), logrolled in the middle of the night, pulled a I-beam from the a frozen river in the middle of winter, done thousands of burpees, and lost all of my toenails. I have learned to make fire with a bow drill (kind of), sewed loin cloths, carried cement bags, and made the worst origami crane you could imagine. I've taken 200 question exams, cursed Jack Cary's name repeatedly, and I still refuse to say "excuse me." And I've come to count several plastic aquarium skulls as my most proud possessions. But most of all, I have learned about life. I've learned about myself. I've forged bonds that can't be broken, and I've been inspired by dozens of incredible people with remarkable stories. The Death Race is one of those things that's impossible to explain or justify to someone unless he or she has been a part of it. And that's fine, because it doesn't matter what others think – the only thing that matters is what it means to you. I've found everything I needed to find in the Death Race, so for me, the journey is complete. But for those taking part this weekend, I'll repeat something I said last year – no one remembers whether or not you walked away with a skull. What they'll remember is how you acted and how you treated others during the race. It's your journey – get out of it what you need, and don't let anyone take that away from you. #peakraces #peakDR #DeathRace

A photo posted by Amelia Boone (@arboone11) on

Bonus Material 2: 2007 “Death Division” YouTube Video

Bonus Material 3: ORM’s first glimpse of the Death Race back in 2012

Death Race No More

Death Race Finisher Skull

This morning we received a call from Joe Desena. He told us he wanted this past weekend’s event to be the last Death Race.  He then sent us the following:

Have we lost our way as a society? Have we lost our way everywhere?

What is the Peak Death Race? Death Race was started as a metaphor for life. It was started in Pittsfield Vermont for a very specific purpose- to find amazing people. I had spent my life looking for them and they are hard to find. When you do find them they inspire and you learn from them.

-People that didn’t want to pull the “entitled” card in life- we all know those that feel entitled. They try and take advantage of the system.

-People that don’t have “quit” in them.

-People that were inspiring and would push until they were broken and then push some more.

-People that take risks- it’s one thing to talk about things you want to do in life or be involved in, its another thing entirely to put all your money, family, and reputation on the line- thus the DR requirement to participate in the media challenge pre Death race. I always wanted people to “feel” what its like to put everything you have on the line and then work like hell 24/7 to make sure you don’t lose it all.

Through this race, Pittsfield Vermont, and more specifically, my farm, has become somewhat of a social experimentation lab with people showing up to live, test their own resolve, train, cry, start businesses, or catch the first ride out of town in a hurry. Some, very few, have what it takes to last. Its not just about being able to hike or ride a bike or chop some wood. Its about being able to day in and day out prioritize on what will move the ball forward. Its about doing the job when the job sucks. It could be sitting in front of a computer 18 hours a day for 7 days a week. It could be using your entire life’s savings you saved for 30 years to build what you believe in, it could be leaving your family behind for 10-20-50 days to get the job done.

How many people say “I’m not doing that job it doesn’t pay enough?” How many people say “I’m not doing that its not fun”, How many people say “That is too much work, I don’t have time” Or my personal favorite: “I deserve to be a winner or finisher or get the credit or the money because because because”?

How many? Almost everyone. Almost.

At the end of the day their are a few people that move the mountains, dig the holes, inspire the followers, and lead the world. They are amazing people to be around. They are the ones that make things happen around us. They don’t put their hand out, they don’t complain, and they never act entitled. They do the job for the sake of the job and in that find reward.

My vote is Death Race should go down in history as one of the single greatest challenges a human could have taken…and not offer it anymore. It would go down in history like all the “greats”. Maybe it would come back some day. Maybe it wouldn’t. Those that did it would know and those that didn’t wouldn’t.

My whole life I have tried to take the tough road, the road less traveled, live in the town with no one in it where very few like me, and shuttering this legend of an event certainly seems like the “hard” thing to do…and so in that respect, it feels right.

Who knows time will tell. its not an easy decision but neither is anything great in life. We’ll see.

After receiving this, we called Joe and asked him the following:
“On a scale of 1-10, 10 being absolutely positive that you want to cancel the next Death Race and refund  2015 registration money?”

His answer:  “10.”

Death Race 2013 Updates


Death Race updates

Summer Death Race 2013-The Year of the Gambler

While we continue to upload and edit the hours of footage, here Joe Desena discusses his “Extreme Gardening Workshop”

Stairway To

Extreme Gardening Workshopshort



We have hours of DR coverage and interviews being edited now. Here is a sneak peak of Joe Desena addressing racers, some who wanted to quit, Sunday morning at the 2-3 mile swim.

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Stay tuned as we bring you the rest of the coverage…

June 25, 2013  1:45pm

Peak Races has officially declared the placement of the first 5 men and the top (and only) women for the 2013 Summer Death Race.

Your winners are:

Olof Death Race

This was Olof 36 hours in on Saturday Night. It would take him another 38 hours to earn his 4th skull.

Male: PJ Rakoski (2nd DR Skull)  Female: Camille Adams (First DR Skull)

The remaining top placers are:


2) Ken Lubin (1st Skull)

3) Don Schwartz (2nd Skull)

4) Olof Dallner (4th Skull) (May be only human with 4 Skulls, we are working on to confirm)

5) Will Bowden

2) Stacie Preston  (First Skull)

3) Amelia Boone (Her 3rd Skull)

4) Shelly Koenig (Last Summer’s DR winner, her 2nd Skull)

(only 4 women received skulls)

We are still working on a list of all men and women who received skulls for this year’s event.

We may eventually get a list of “non quitters” who got bibs as well, but that is not in stone.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen the now famous “Todd Sedlak Quits The Death Race” video, here is your chance.


June 23, 2013  11:30pm

A lot has happened today. Most of which can be found on our twitter feed @obstaclemedia.

We will have lots of photos and will catch you up in detail as much as we can in a later post.

For now, you need to know the last challenge of the evening is called The Fitness Challenge which takes place at the poolhouse on Joe’s farm.

When racers arrive they draw a card. The card corresponds to some physical exercise they have to do. (100 burpees, 100 squats, 5 minute plank, etc). They do the exercise, then come back and draw another card. They do this a total of 13 times.

So far there are 15 people who have completed all 13 exercises. These people are now the leaders in the race. Here they are in the order that they finished .

1. PJ Rakoski

2. Donn Schwartz

3. Ken Lubin

4. Olof Dallner

5. Pierre Luc Tremblay

6. Camille Adams

7. Stacie Preston

8. Amelia Boone

9. Alfred Esposito

10. Jeff “Tire Guy” Foster

11. Adam Snider

12. Steven Olivarr

13. Will Bowden

14. Roupen

15. Shelly Koenig

These people were told that the next challenge in the morning will be at The Casino. The Casino is closed until 6:00 a.m. So they can sleep or do whatever they want until then.

There are another 25 or so people also currently doing the exercises. We are not sure how they will handle the remainder of the participants who are somewhere between here and the previous challenge which was the Iron Mine Casino. We assume there will be a cutoff.


June 23, 2013  1:30am

Here is the latest list of DNF’s that we believe is 95% accurate.

Aaron McMahon
Adam Lieb
Adam Pichet
Anastasia Drew
Ande Wegner
Andrew Koenig
Angela Emily
Anthony Puntel
Barclay Williamson
Benjamin Sexton
Bill Schlageter
Brian Bresee
Carol Vavrock
Chris Rubino
Christopher Bertini
Christopher Kappil
Christopher Simister
Christopher Sterling
Commodore Mann
Craig Vavrock
Daniel Dodson
Daniel Ricci
Darrel Wurzbach
David Copper
Doug Bowman
Eric Olsen
Erick Garcia
Erick Olsen
Ericka Spelko
Franck Yelles
Gabriel Berkey
Gary Duncan
Hugh Tower Pierce
J.Lee Hoffman
Jacob Bean
James Althaus
James Korak
James Lehner
Jason Bence
Jason Harsayne
Jean Francois Morin
Jeff Fruhwirt
Jeff Mcaslin
Jeremy Jenkins
Jim Goundry
Joe Benoit
John Darling
John Pollock
John Ruane
Kristopher Cicowski
Lance Sanson
Louis Turnbull
Mark Harvey
Matthew Fullum
Matthew Zupan
Michael Mills
Michael Moore
Mike Miller
Mike Sandercock
Nele Schulze
Oliver Butler
Pierre Svartman
Rhett Pyrdum
Rob Genzlinger
RT Kaufman
Ryan Washington
Sabastian Ewerfzumrode
Stephen Reid
Steve Pigott
Stuart Klaas
Timothy Byker
Timothy Francis
Todd Sedlak
William Betteridge
Zoltan Torrico


June 23, 2013  12:30am

At around 8:00pm, all the racers left gathered at Riverside Farm. Many had been there for hours having gotten through the various tasks in plenty of time. We also watched a few make it just in time. The ones who had been there a while had time to change clothes, eat a meal and spend some quality time with family. It was for the most part a joyous occasion.

Andy Weinberg came around at about 10 minutes past and reminded them of what was next.

There were others would did not arrive to Riverside until after 8:00pm. Those latecomers were told they were out of the race. Some of them asked to get back in. If they opted to, they could hike up to Roger’s which was 3 miles away. There, they could do chores with others who had been quarantined there all day for various penalties. None of these people at Roger’s know if they are ever going to get out and get to join the Death Race again. They may be put to work for all those hours, then sent home anyway. It’s the year of the gambler, and the racers all know this so no one should be surprised regardless of the outcome.

Andy then gave a speech where he told them they were going to hike for 30 miles. They were told if they are the first to get to the end they can rest. They are going for a 3 mile swim in the morning, but not until the sun comes up. So if you get there early, you can relax and do whatever.

At that point, a few more people dropped out. Then, the remaining 117 or so left Riverside. Almost right after it started to rain. This caused a few more immediate dropouts.

The last count we have as of this writing is 110 still in the race with 15-17 of those at Roger’s doing special tasks and not on the main trail to Blood Root.

Here are several photos from around that time.


June 22, 2013  7:45pm

This morning consisted of planting grass and hay bales as the finishing touch to the steps they built last night/this morning.

Next was hours of splitting wood and carrying logs. Then, the racers had to walk with a rock all the way from Amee Farm to Tweed Road carrying a large rock. Then, they had to hike all the way up Tweed where they would meet Peter at a little card table.Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.21.54 PM They had to go through a very intense stretch of barbed wire to retrieve a playing card. Then come back up and present it to Peter. Peter would then draw a “random” card from his deck. If the racers card was higher, they were given a chip and could head back down to Riverside for a break. If their card was lower, they had to crawl back through the barbed wire to get another card.

It didn’t take long to figure out the athletes would lose more than they would win. Everyone came back up with a 2,3,4, or 5. Peter always drew a 6 or higher. The rules were after the first two “card fetches”, you could lose your pack and just go through by without it.

We watched several experienced racers including Mark Webb, get very frustrated after losing this game time after time. Thank goodness 5 times was the maximum number they could go down without moving on either way.

They were told be back at Riverside by 8pm (dusk) for the first major cutoff. We will see what happens then. So far, Joe and Andy have kept their word for the most part. This includes allowing people to rest at Riverside if they did the card/barbed wire challenge and had enough time. We saw many relaxing who were taking advantage of this.

As of now 55 are out of the race. We will see what happens at the dusk cutoff. We are told those who make it to the cutoff will then be rewarded with a 30 mile hike.

Stay tuned for more updates on facebook and twitter.

For now, here are a few more photos.

Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.22.17 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.22.28 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.22.55 PM


Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.24.48 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.24.33 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.56 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.34 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.25 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 7.23.15 PM

June 22, 2013  1:05am

Here are several photos from a hike up the mountain we took with Joe DeSena inspecting the work of the Death Racers. Some of the participants were doing brute force work moving some massive rocks up the mountain. Some were doing excruciating detailed work.  Digging current rocks out, digging around them, getting them placed properly. Neither job looks like a lot of fun, but most we found were in really good spirits.

Last we heard they will keep going until its finished or 5:00am. Click the photos for a closer look.



June 21, 2013  11:55pm

As promised, the participants have spent the last 8 plus hours building the never ending stone staircase all the way up the side of the mountain starting at Riverside Farm. We walked the length of the trail with Joe DeSena as he inspected their work. Some was up to par, a lot of it wasn’t, which brings us to our 2nd audio bonus clip of the weekend.

A few hours into the daunting task of building all these steps, athletes were allowed to leave and go buy food for themselves and their teammates. I asked Joe why he was being so nice to them. This is his response.   130621_018

June 21, 2013  5:30pm

At 2pm, all of the participants were gathered up for a big speech by Joe and Andy. Many of them (including the veterans

Joe and Andy explain it all, sort of.

Joe and Andy explain it all, sort of.

that had been taken away earlier that morning) had been working on the “Stairway to Heaven”. A staircase made of giant rocks going 1 mile up and covering 1,000 feet of elevation.  Little did they know that the next task would be more of the same, we will get back to that.  For now, here is the highlights of the 2:00pm “start of the race” speech.

  • Any chips received for work done yesterday with Don Devaney were now null and void because the Devaney Casino went bankrupt
  • The first cutoff is going to be at Riverside Farm at dusk tomorrow (Saturday) night
  • The next cutoff is Sunday at Noon-Top 100 people continue
  • The next cutoff is Sunday afternoon-Top 40 people continue
  • You will need x amount of cards and x amount of chips (plus your tux) to be considered a finisher and get a skull
  • They are serious about cutoffs this year.
  • If you drop out between now and 8pm, you can go straight home. If you drop out after that, you won’t get your keys for 6 hours after drop out so that you can nap prior to leaving for safety reasons
  • If you finish a task early, you can nap in the “pony barn”
  • Teams then broke into groups of 10
  • Groups may have a chance to vote you out of their group at some point for not working hard(more details will be given later)
  • They only have 40 skulls, when they get down to 40 the race is over
  • You may get a chance to get back in if you miss a time cutoff. There is no guarantee, but you may get a chance to get back in by doing various chores for Roger who lives on a nearby mountain.
  • Your support crew can do hard work with you, (ie building the staircase) but they can’t carry your pack, etc.
  • If you finish in 24 hours, you get $100,000

Bonus audio clip: This is what the chaos sounded  like shortly after Joe and Andy stopped talking. 130621_011

The participants then began the task of finishing the “Stairway to Heaven” which will take them all night.


Eagerly awaiting instructions from above

Eagerly awaiting instructions from above





Breaking it up

Breaking it up


Gathering Rocks

Gathering Rocks


Winter DR winner Nele Schulze carrying rocks

Winter DR winner Nele Schulze carrying buckets of stones up the hill


June 21, 2013    1:40pm

Here is where we are right now.

These two check everyone in.

These two check everyone in.

Registration took place from 6:00am-9:00am.

Racers checked in and were sent on a short hike to Andy’s house. When they got there, they were met by his 11 year old daughter Jade were they had to roll dice or spin a dreidel to determine a small amount of burpees they would have to do.

After that, they were asked to do a variety of chores such as breaking up rocks into pebbles, digging a ditch, etc. Since many of the DR veterans did not show up until closer to 9:00am. They were punished for “sandbagging it”. So Joe and Andy sent all of the  previous death race finishers out to do some extra chores elsewhere. We have not seen them since.

One particular veteran, Todd Sedlak showed up a few minutes after 9:00am and was punished

Todd Sedlak explains why he showed up at 10 past 9.

Todd Sedlak explains why he showed up at 10 past 9.

with 1,000 burpees. After chores at Andy’s, the rest of the competitors (the official count for starters is 194), were sent up and over Joe’s mountain back down to Amee Farm. At that checkpoint, they were handed a poker chip with a number on it. From there, they were sent back down to Riverside to wait for “the race to start” at 2pm.

We are assuming this is where we will be reunited with all of the veterans who were being punished elsewhere.

Stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter for more updates. In the meantime, here are some photos from this morning’s action.


Smashing Rocks

Smashing Rocks

Michael Mills gets his bib and sweatshirt.

Michael Mills gets his bib and sweatshirt.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Pak does burpees for cursing.

Pak does burpees for cursing.

Peter Borden, one of 3 people that know everything, stands with his wife and Norm Koch.

Peter Borden, one of 3 people that knows everything, stands with his wife and Norm Koch.


Death Race vets off for extra chores.

Death Race vets off for extra chores.





June 20, 2013 | 11:53pm

We spent some time with veteran death racers at a couple of pre race pasta parties earlier this evening. The mood was jovial for most (veterans) and a little frightful for others (newbies).

Registration was officially announced to be between 6:00am-9:00am tomorrow (Friday). I asked several veterans if they thought it was better to show up later or earlier. The overwhelming majority said “later” banking on the notion that earlier means “doing extra work”. We will find out if they are going to be rewarded or punished for that decision here in a few hours.

In the meantime, enjoy these moments we caught on the eve of the official start of the Death Race.

Anthony Matesi and Daren De Heras. Two "Unofficial" 2012 finishers back for redemption.

Anthony Matesi and Daren De Heras. Two “Unofficial” 2012 finishers back for redemption.


The one and only Mark Webb

The one and only Mark Webb

Will they be smiling tomorrow?

Will they be smiling tomorrow?


Cornfed meets NESpahten. While not strangers to the world of death race, this is their first official attempt.

Cornfed meets NESpahten. While not strangers to the world of death race, this is their first official attempt.


4.5 hours of hard work earned you this from Don Devaney.


June 20, 2013 | 1:35pm

On Wednesday a call went out to let Death Racers know that they could earn an extra chip if they showed up at 7:00am today

(Thursday). 35 participants from all over the US (all first timer Death Racers) were met by Don Devaney who led them through a small taste of what is to come this weekend. They spend 4 and a half hours doing several tasks. The first was moving heavy beams of wood from Trailside to Riverside, which is about 6.5 miles. Some of them were then asked to count what amounted to 63,000 pieces of broken glass while others removed nails out of the beams of wood.

They all earned one chip.

How much will this chip be worth in the grand scheme of the race? Something? Nothing? Everything? We shall see.

4.5 hours of hard work earned you this from Don Devaney.


June 18, 2013

The updates will begin Thursday night, June 20, 2013 and end when

a) the last person finishes OR

b) the last person drops and no one finishes OR

c) when Joe and Andy fall asleep.

Come back early and often to see how your favorite Death Racers are doing.



The Glamazon Returns to Pittsfield

Endurance athlete Laura Svette, affectionately known as Glamazon West, will make her triumphant return to Pittsfield, Vermont this weekend for the 2013 Summer Death Race.

For those new to the fold, The Death Race is a 48-72 contest of endurance. Participants are asked to do a number of physical or mental tasks. Any one of which would be enough for one person’s workout for the entire weekend. The Death Race is all about finishing. Most participants don’t. Of the hundreds that have participated in past Summer and Winter Death Race, only 15% finish. Those proud 15% do not walk away with fabulous cash and/or prizes. Just the pride of being called a finisher and a tiny skull.

Laura Svette Death Racer

Laura back when she was called Lola.

Laura was born and raised in a small farm town Bainbridge, OH. She later played collegiate volleyball at university of Virginia. Her potential pro volleyball career was cut short by injury.

She got acquainted with the Death Race after meeting some like minded athletes back in 2011. She eventually teamed up with Katy McCabe and formed Team Glamazon. They were 2 women determined to make it through together, unfortunately  they did not. Laura took herself out at hour 34. She told us “DNF changes you, teaches you about yourself,  your limits, your goals”. She was set for redemption in 2012 but suffered an achilles rupture just months before the race. “It was devestating to not go back, prove myself and be with all the amazing racers and friends I had made”.

Since then she has trained harder than ever as an avid runner, volleyball player, and crossfitter. This past February, she competed in the world’s first 70k Survival Run.  It was “only” 20 hours and was great Death Race practice. Some said the event, although much shorter, was on par with the misery/ecstasy of a Death Race experience. She was one of only a few women to compete and outlasted she several male competitors

She said she is very much looking forward to getting back on the mountain with all of your insane friends in Pittsfield. She specifically mentioned Kristopher Cisowski. She told us  “We found eachother on the course and raced most of the 2011 DR together. This year we go back to finish”

We asked what is going to be different this year versus what happened in 2011. She said “Mentally I know I am stronger. Am I the best i can be? Certainly not, we all have weaknesses and can always be better”.

“I have had to overcome many emotional challenges in my life, and now I am physically changed with 2 surgically repaired achilles. I have learned to accept that I am no longer a quick young volleyball stud that can jump out of a gym or run fast. I accept what my body can give me daily and I still work hard. I never hesitate to take on new challenges”.

Survival Run Laura Svette

Laura at the Survival Run with DR Legend Johnny Waite.

Want to know everything that is going/went down in Pittsfield this weekend? Check out more Death Race updates.

Spartan Ultra Beast 2013 Update (Finally)!


Spartan just announced that they are accepting applications for the 2013 Spartan UltraBeast. A 26.2+ miles obstacle race that takes place in Killington, VT. Last year, only half of the 350 person field that started the event finished. Many quit somewhere between Lap 1 and Lap 2, and several did not make time cutoffs and were pulled from the course.

An email that was just released by Spartan stating all who ran last year are automatically accepted back in. An additional email states they are starting to accept applications for the remaining slots. (1000 total accepted).

Another huge portion of these announcements is that the Ultra Beast will take place on Sunday the 22nd, instead of Saturday.

Click here to read the entire email from Spartan to those that participated in the 2012 Ultra Beast.

Here is the email for everyone else.

Stay tuned for more information as we receive it.