Native man prepares for his third ‘Loss of life Race’ Printed 12:10 am Thursday, January 5, 2023
1 of 5
SALISBURY — Do you suppose you can carry — unexpectedly — 50 kilos price of tenting gear, a 70-pound sand bag and two 10-pound ice blocks in a bucket up and down a one-mile hill for an hour and a half?
Do you suppose you can lie down in your facet and roll sideways doing an train referred to as pencil rolls for miles, over a number of hours, in a subject that’s stuffed with fish guts?
What about sawing wood with a handsaw for as much as 12 hours?
Andrew Head has achieved all of this. The 42-year-old is a Salisbury native residing in Granite Quarry together with his spouse and two youngsters. He graduated from the College of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2003 and was the varsity’s mascot, Rameses. He now works as a locomotive engineer for Norfolk Southern.
Head travels to Pittsfield, Vermont, and competes in these brutal challenges referred to as the Spartan Loss of life Race. The 5-11 185-pound endurance athlete is gearing up for his first winter race after taking part in summer season variations the previous two years. Throughout his first race in 2021, Head misplaced 4 of his toenails and didn’t end. Solely 5 individuals completed. The judges pulled him from his second race final summer season for security causes. He had spent hours doing challenges whereas being sprayed with water and the judges feared he had developed hypothermia. Solely three racers completed that race.
“It’s an excessive endurance occasion, arrange and designed to push you past what you suppose you are able to do,” Head stated.
Those that end a loss of life race don’t make any cash, however solely earn a white cranium. Head has but to obtain a white cranium. He has obtained a black cranium after profitable the Mount Sparta Problem, which is a 24-hour occasion the place he needed to go up and down a one-mile model referred to as Joe’s Mountain. He climbed 37 miles and nearly 17,000 ft of elevation — half the space to the highest of Mount Everest.
The winter race takes place on Feb. Sep 11. Head supposed to do solely the summer season races, however his fellow racers satisfied him to strive the winter model.
The problem he’s most nervous about is the chilly plunges. He must use an ax to chop a gap within the frozen Beaver Pond and submerge himself in freezing water for 5 minutes and stay absolutely underwater for 15 seconds. Head referred to as chilly water his “nemesis,” however he has skilled for the problem by doing chilly plunges in his yard swimming pool. As a result of he acquired pulled from his final race for suspected hypothermia, he’ll put on correct winter gear, akin to Merino wool and Gor-Tex outer layers to remain dry.
What’s a loss of life race?
Loss of life races final for 72 hours and include bodily and psychological challenges created to push the opponents to their absolute restrict. There are particular person challenges and workforce challenges. Particular person challenges might be something from working up a hill carrying cement blocks for hours, doing sit-ups, push-ups and planks or doing origami. Staff challenges normally include carrying large objects like tractor tires or metal beams for miles.
One of many hardest workforce challenges Head stated concerned a porta-potty. He and eight others carried the porta-potty with somebody inside it up Bloodroot, a nine-mile steep path. Head describes the path as if “it’s acquired to go to heaven.” The individual contained in the porta-potty recited a poem to the opposite workforce members, which all of them needed to memorize and recite again to the judges as soon as they acquired to the highest.
The psychological feats of focus and reminiscence whereas beneath bodily stress units the Spartan Loss of life Race aside from different excessive contests. Remember the fact that the racers don’t sleep, barely eat and are worn out from the bodily challenges they’ve already accomplished. In one other psychological problem, the racers walked throughout an space that was a number of soccer fields lengthy and realized 30 info about elephants. Then, they walked again throughout the identical subject and recited 20 of the elephant info to the judges.
Head stated at some factors the race is usually a blur.
No loss of life races are the identical. In actual fact, the racers don’t even know when the race begins. They present up the day earlier than it’s scheduled and wait round for the judges to inform them when to begin, normally very early within the morning. The races happen at Riverside Farm, which is owned by founder Joe De Sena, a former ultramarathon runner who began the Spartan Loss of life Race in 2007. Within the ahead of the guide, “The Legend of the Loss of life Race,” written by Tony Matesi, De Sena describes it this fashion: “The aim was easy — crush individuals. Completely crush them. Push them so arduous past their limits that they lastly meet their actual selves.”
‘I simply needed to see what I can actually do’
Head trains for these races by going to a high-intensity interval coaching (HIIT) class each morning at 5:45 a.m. Then runs a 5K later within the day. The interval coaching consists of power and cardio workouts. To organize for the winter race, Head has been rucking 5Ks (strolling or mountain climbing with a weighted backpack or rucksack) whereas carrying a 60-pound backpack and a 70-pound sandbag.
He broke his arm whereas curler blading together with his youngsters in 2018 and misplaced 50 kilos. When he lastly recovered, he determined that he wanted to make a change. He began figuring out extra and heard about Spartan Races in 2019. Spartan Races are impediment races that adjust from 3-miles to marathon distances.
In 2020, he began doing endurance occasions referred to as Hurricane Heats. These races are primarily workforce primarily based endurance occasions. Racers do lots of burpees, push-ups, sit-ups and nearly all the time should construct one thing. There’s a four-hour warmth, a 12-hour warmth and a 24-hour warmth. Head slowly progressed and has efficiently completed every warmth. He then traveled to Georgia to compete in a 40-hour endurance occasion referred to as The Gauntlet. After ending that race, Head stated there was nothing else to do however check out the Loss of life Race.
Competing in these occasions, Head has made quite a few friendships. Solely round 130 racers entered the summer season Loss of life Race in 2022 and Head describes his fellow racers as “very household like.” The shared struggling all of them undergo brings them collectively, Head stated.
“You type bonds with these individuals which might be in all probability corresponding to one thing like within the navy when you’ve got been in battle with individuals,” Head stated. “It’s arduous to explain the bond you get with these individuals.”
Erin Powell, a fellow Loss of life Race competitor, was the one who satisfied Head to compete within the winter race. Whereas it’s a person race, the 2 encourage one another to maintain going and never quit. Each time they compete, they make a weekend out of it. Each drive their campers to Vermont and go tenting.
“Our mindsets are the identical, we get alongside collectively and we work effectively collectively,” Powell stated. “It’s like a brotherhood.”
To most individuals, coming into a race with the phrase “loss of life” in it appears insane. However Head thinks in any other case.
“Most individuals don’t know what they’re actually able to. Everyone walks round of their little consolation zone and their good heat home they usually actually, actually, haven’t any clue what they will do as a result of they’ve by no means been pushed to that time,” Head stated. “And I simply needed to see what I can actually do.”