Texans will finish brutal race — or die trying

Posted: June 17, 2013 by JonoShmono "SykOse. Live. Extreme." in Crossfit, SykOtic
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Brandon Bonser lifts a ball of concrete Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Comal CrossFit while training for the Spartan Death Race in Vermont. The race is an adventure race with extreme physical challenges such as carrying large loads, climbing mountains, sitting in frigid water and felling trees. Photo: JOHN DAVENPORT, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS / ©San Antonio Express-News/Photo may be sold to the public

Brandon Bonser lifts a ball of concrete Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Comal CrossFit while training for the Spartan Death Race in Vermont. The race is an adventure race with extreme physical challenges such as carrying large loads, climbing mountains, sitting in frigid water and felling trees. The participants set to compete in the Spartan Death Race in the Vermont woods this weekend don’t know the obstacles they’ll face during the 40-mile endurance event. They just know the obstacles are going to be tough. Really tough.

In previous years, participants have had to carry tractor tires up and down a mountain; hike upstream in 45-degree, waist-deep water; chop down trees; and crawl through a maze of barbed wire amid mud. Last year’s event lasted 67 hours.

Some of the obstacles seem just plain mean — such as eating a bag of raw onions.

The website for the event? www.YouMayDie.com.

“They try everything they can do to get you to quit,” says Brandon Bonser, 44, a health-care consultant in Spring Branch and one of 30 Texans signed up for the grueling race. “This is about who’s left standing in the end. It’s a mental toughness challenge as much as it is a physical challenge. They want you to get frustrated and mentally explode and walk off the course.”

The Spartan Death Race, which begins Friday in the Vermont town of Pittsfield, is one of the most brutal adventure races in the country, aimed at amateur athletes who have tackled marathons, triathlons and mud runs and are always looking for the next big challenge.

A couple of hard-core endurance athletes founded the race in 2005. Aspiring competitors can get a taste of the challenge by participating in the Reebok Spartan Race Series, a worldwide 60-event series of challenging obstacle races developed by the creators of the Death Race. The next Texas race in the series takes place in Glen Rose on Dec. 14-15 (www.spartan race.com).

The annual Spartan Death Race requires endurance, strength, survival skills, navigation skills, a sense of adventure and a healthy dose of tenacity — not to mention a strange idea of fun.

Only 15 percent of the 300 athletes who started last year’s event eventually crossed the finish line. Unlike most adventure races, there’s no map to study in advance, no list of obstacles. And if that weren’t masochistic enough, competitors pay several hundred dollars for the adventure.

“It’s a challenge and it’s not your ordinary get-out-and-run-a-marathon thing,” says Marc Miller, 42, a geologist in Canyon Lake. “This is something totally different. It takes intelligence. It takes physical fitness. It takes stamina. It’s everything wrapped into one.”

So how do you train for an event like this?

Many competitors are avid practitioners of CrossFit — an intense strength and conditioning regimen of ever-changing workouts that combines Olympic weight-lifting, challenging cardiovascular exercise such as running or rowing, and gymnastics.

They’ll also spend a Saturday tackling a workout that consists, of, say, running with backpacks filled with survival gear, swimming in the Guadalupe River and chopping down a tree.“You’ve got to mix it up,” Miller says. “We’ve been flipping some big tractor tires because it’s miserable. Anything we can figure out to do that’s just absolutely miserable, that’s what we do.”

Since last year’s race involved a math test, Miller’s wife has been quizzing him on basic algebra.

Miller and Bonser completed the Mountain Man Memorial March in April, a marathon in the Smoky Mountains which they ran wearing backpacks filled with bricks. In early June they completed a 35-mile ultra marathon in San Diego alsowearing weighted backpacks.“Any of these things that we’ve done, you get to a point where you’re fatigued and it’s tough and you don’t want to go on, and that’s when you have to find something somewhere inside you just to block everything out and do it,” Miller says. “Don’t think. Just do.”

Darryl Wurzbach, 55, an electrical contractor, signed up for the race last year because his son-in-law, a Marine serving in Afghanistan, asked him to brave the event with him.

Wurzbach feels prepared for the event after doing “insanely intense” workouts at the no-frills gym he owns, Wurz-Boxx, on West Blanco Road. Although he moved from San Antonio to Dallas in mid-April, he kept up his workouts in his home gym. He also added more running, including running while wearing weighted vests, to his routine.

“I think the race is just about surviving,” Wurzbach says. “You’ve got to just tell yourself, ‘Here’s what’s facing you, and what are you going to do? Are you going to finish it or cut it short?’ It’s all up to you. I really hope to finish. That’s my only goal.”

Bonser says he’s worried more about the mental challenge than the physical challenge. One year, he says, contestants hiked 10 miles up a mountain to translate a Greek phrase, then hiked down, only to find they had to turn back to obtain a claim check.

“The water up there is sub-50 degrees, and they’ll put you in that water for hours and have you flirt with hypothermia,” Bonser says. “I wonder, am I tough enough to be able to handle that? Where’s my breaking point? The only person who can take me off that mountain is me. But I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think I can finish it.”

The participants receive a list of mandatory gear to bring, which this year includes a life jacket, ax, saw, hand shovel, safety goggles and, for reasons left unexplained, 5 pounds of hay. The participants carry the packs of gear, but they have a support crew — often their spouses — to supply them with dry socks, food and other essentials.

Finishers walk away with bragging rights and a trophy shaped like a skull. Miller and Bonser are already thinking about the next challenge.

“Climbing Mount Everest, how about that?” Miller says.

The next Spartan Death Race is scheduled for Jan. 31. Registration costs $400. Go towww.YouMayDie.com.

 

jbelasco@express-news.net

 

 

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The participants set to compete in the Spartan Death Race in the Vermont woods this weekend don’t know the obstacles they’ll face during the 40-mile endurance event. They just know the obstacles are going to be tough. Really tough.

In previous years, participants have had to carry tractor tires up and down a mountain; hike upstream in 45-degree, waist-deep water; chop down trees; and crawl through a maze of barbed wire amid mud. Last year’s event lasted 67 hours.

Some of the obstacles seem just plain mean — such as eating a bag of raw onions.

The website for the event? www.YouMayDie.com.

“They try everything they can do to get you to quit,” says Brandon Bonser, 44, a health-care consultant in Spring Branch and one of 30 Texans signed up for the grueling race. “This is about who’s left standing in the end. It’s a mental toughness challenge as much as it is a physical challenge. They want you to get frustrated and mentally explode and walk off the course.”

The Spartan Death Race, which begins Friday in the Vermont town of Pittsfield, is one of the most brutal adventure races in the country, aimed at amateur athletes who have tackled marathons, triathlons and mud runs and are always looking for the next big challenge.

A couple of hard-core endurance athletes founded the race in 2005. Aspiring competitors can get a taste of the challenge by participating in the Reebok Spartan Race Series, a worldwide 60-event series of challenging obstacle races developed by the creators of the Death Race. The next Texas race in the series takes place in Glen Rose on Dec. 14-15 (www.spartan race.com).

The annual Spartan Death Race requires endurance, strength, survival skills, navigation skills, a sense of adventure and a healthy dose of tenacity — not to mention a strange idea of fun.

Only 15 percent of the 300 athletes who started last year’s event eventually crossed the finish line. Unlike most adventure races, there’s no map to study in advance, no list of obstacles. And if that weren’t masochistic enough, competitors pay several hundred dollars for the adventure.

“It’s a challenge and it’s not your ordinary get-out-and-run-a-marathon thing,” says Marc Miller, 42, a geologist in Canyon Lake. “This is something totally different. It takes intelligence. It takes physical fitness. It takes stamina. It’s everything wrapped into one.”

So how do you train for an event like this?

Many competitors are avid practitioners of CrossFit — an intense strength and conditioning regimen of ever-changing workouts that combines Olympic weight-lifting, challenging cardiovascular exercise such as running or rowing, and gymnastics.

They’ll also spend a Saturday tackling a workout that consists, of, say, running with backpacks filled with survival gear, swimming in the Guadalupe River and chopping down a tree.“You’ve got to mix it up,” Miller says. “We’ve been flipping some big tractor tires because it’s miserable. Anything we can figure out to do that’s just absolutely miserable, that’s what we do.”

Since last year’s race involved a math test, Miller’s wife has been quizzing him on basic algebra.

Miller and Bonser completed the Mountain Man Memorial March in April, a marathon in the Smoky Mountains which they ran wearing backpacks filled with bricks. In early June they completed a 35-mile ultra marathon in San Diego alsowearing weighted backpacks.“Any of these things that we’ve done, you get to a point where you’re fatigued and it’s tough and you don’t want to go on, and that’s when you have to find something somewhere inside you just to block everything out and do it,” Miller says. “Don’t think. Just do.”

Darryl Wurzbach, 55, an electrical contractor, signed up for the race last year because his son-in-law, a Marine serving in Afghanistan, asked him to brave the event with him.

Wurzbach feels prepared for the event after doing “insanely intense” workouts at the no-frills gym he owns, Wurz-Boxx, on West Blanco Road. Although he moved from San Antonio to Dallas in mid-April, he kept up his workouts in his home gym. He also added more running, including running while wearing weighted vests, to his routine.

“I think the race is just about surviving,” Wurzbach says. “You’ve got to just tell yourself, ‘Here’s what’s facing you, and what are you going to do? Are you going to finish it or cut it short?’ It’s all up to you. I really hope to finish. That’s my only goal.”

Bonser says he’s worried more about the mental challenge than the physical challenge. One year, he says, contestants hiked 10 miles up a mountain to translate a Greek phrase, then hiked down, only to find they had to turn back to obtain a claim check.

“The water up there is sub-50 degrees, and they’ll put you in that water for hours and have you flirt with hypothermia,” Bonser says. “I wonder, am I tough enough to be able to handle that? Where’s my breaking point? The only person who can take me off that mountain is me. But I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think I can finish it.”

The participants receive a list of mandatory gear to bring, which this year includes a life jacket, ax, saw, hand shovel, safety goggles and, for reasons left unexplained, 5 pounds of hay. The participants carry the packs of gear, but they have a support crew — often their spouses — to supply them with dry socks, food and other essentials.

Finishers walk away with bragging rights and a trophy shaped like a skull. Miller and Bonser are already thinking about the next challenge.

“Climbing Mount Everest, how about that?” Miller says.

The next Spartan Death Race is scheduled for Jan. 31. Registration costs $400. Go towww.YouMayDie.com.

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