June 23, 2018
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Pushing past the extreme limits in the 2013 Death Race

By Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When Nick Monette applied Super Glue to the bottom of his raw feet to keep going, he had totally shut down the logical part of his brain that was telling him to stop, that this was too much, that he was done.

He pushed past the limits of his own physical well-being.

And that was the whole point.

The 2013 Death Race was a week ago in Pittsfield, Vt. It lasted, for some people, 70 hours.

Out of more than 200 qualifying applicants, only 36 were credited with officially finishing.

Monette finally found his finish line somewhere between hour 53 and 56.

The 27-year-old business development officer for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority actually began this quest days earlier on his trek just to get to the race.

Monette left Milwaukee at 8 p.m. on Wed. June 19, drove straight through to Vermont and finally went to bed the night before the race after 40 hours of no sleep.

Then he began the Death Race on Friday, June 21. One of the elements of the Death Race is the competitors are not given a course map or much of anything of what to expect.

This is what Monette and the competitors ended up doing:

Broke rocks into gravel, spread them on a driveway; gambled; did countless burpees; hiked to a checkpoint to get a casino chip, returned to the headquarters before a cut off time; carried steel pipes up a mountain to use to build a staircase with boulders with a team (literally worked for about 12-plus hours I think); cut grass on the top of a mountain with scissors; filled a backpack with gravel (probably almost 100 pounds) and carried it up a hill twice; found a big rock to carry for about 24 hours.

But wait, there’s more:

Split 30 logs into six to eight pieces and then carried across the road to a drop point in 90 degrees for hours; hiked back up a mountain with the rock; did laps down and up a barbed wire covered waterfall; hiked Bloodroot Mountain for miles in the mud and rain; dropped off rock, then swam for three miles.

Monette’s best friend lasted until the start of the hike in the mountain. After that, Monette was on his own, which was incredibly tough mentally. Most competitors tweeted that they started experiencing hallucinations, especially in the mountain.

“Yes, those hallucinations were unreal,” said Monette. “Forty hours in to the race, at about 2 a.m., the hallucinations started. I was totally sharp up until that point. Then I started seeing people in the woods, thinking people were walking backwards, crawling. My energy levels were just up and down for hours. After awhile, you just go into Zombie mode and when the sun comes up you are back to normal.

“On the bright side it was an amazing experience, with beautiful sunrises and mountains. My favorite part was sitting on top of a mountain at 6 a.m. cutting grass with scissors and watching the sun rise with the morning fog.”

Monette stopped racing on Monday, June 24.

“I lasted around 53-56 hours, after about 80 miles; had to stop because I couldn’t walk,” Monette said. “I started to develop a little trench foot about 42 hours in and had to Super Glue my feet to get another 30 miles out of them. Super Glue was a suggestion by a fellow two-time finisher, Pete Coleman from Georgia. He and his wife, Kim, who was his support crew, were incredibly kind. He said when your feet get raw, it acts like a kind of callous. So, I spread it all on the balls of my feet to keep the skin from breaking down more. That got me 30 more miles.

“After that, they were finished…

“I was a little disappointed that something like that stopped me,” Monette said. “My training was good, my nutrition was good and I did well with the sleep deprivation. I just hate the fact that I had to quit, but I really am happy about how far I made it.”

The funny thing is, Monette didn’t just cross this off his bucket list and move on to say, getting his pilot’s license. All this experience did was whet his thirst for more.

“I will be going back next year for the finish,” said Monette. “The best thing I got out of it was discovering new limits. I had never hiked that far and in such conditions and I was amazed by how far I was able to push myself. I have been debating doing an ultra marathon and now I will definitely do it. A 50-mile race looks like a piece of cake now since I know what I have to train for and I know all the information; in the Death Race I did not.

“This was an amazing experience and it set a whole new bar for me in terms of my potential; only going crazier from here. My best friend and I made a pact to do one crazy challenge a year and the only rule is the challenge must get more difficult each time. It is amazing what the body can do when you get the mental part taken care of.”

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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