A Lehighton man was one of the 41 finishers in the ultimate endurance challenge when he participated in The Spartan Death Race.
Doug Bowman was among 194 who started the race.
Created by the founders of Spartan Race, it's been held annually since 2006 in Pittsfield, Vt., and this year's race, dubbed "The Year of the Gambler," was one of the most intense since the race's inception.
Beginning early morning Friday, June 21, competitors did not see the finish until Monday, June 24, enduring more than 70 hours on the course.
Bowman said that it would take hours to give a Death Race review, but instead of thinking of the strong points he encountered, he looked to learn from his weakest moments.
"If I look at the weakest, I will improve on them," he said. "If I focus on the strong points, I will turn into ego."
During the late Friday and Saturday nighttime hours, he was dead tired and began hallucinating, but he continued to push forward.
"Its hard to explain but my body was moving forward but my mind kept going someplace else." he said. "It almost felt like I was walking on air with really heavy legs."
He headed to a point known as Riverside, but had no idea where to go, but it turned out that when he got to Riverside, he was finished.
"I prayed so much for that as I walked there," he said. "So what did I learn from this portion? A lot. I learned that a person to walk with would have been wonderful. Maybe help the mind from lapsing into hallucination games. That the people that helped me get that far were like gifts from God. Dry shoes and socks. Food. Drink. Trekking poles. Some support from friends can make or break in life."
Bowman doesn't believe in quitting what is good.
Despite not training for the event, he had finished when many others who had training for months did not finish.
The annual ultra-endurance test began with 400 registered entrants. Of the 194 who started, only 41 were dubbed official finishers, four of those being female.
In line with previous years' finishes, 2013 saw slightly less than or this year, just over 20 percent of the racers able to complete all the tasks and call themselves official finishers.
"Just like life, the Peak Death Race is designed to push and aggravate people to such a point that even the most stoic eventually fail," said Joe De Sena, co-Founder of the Peak Death Race and one of the Spartan Race Founders.
"Only those people possessing incredible discipline under the most insane and even delusional circumstances can call themselves a finisher. These athletes are willing to complete the journey at all costs. The fact that people endured for 70 hours to see what they are made of, is just remarkable and awe-inspiring. This is our longest race to date," De Sena said.
The obstacle and challenge-driven race required competitors to complete more than a dozen unusual, grueling mental and physical challenges throughout more than a 50-mile area in the dense Vermont woods.
The 2013 Peak Death Race also featured its first two adaptive athletes: Michael Mills, a T-12 paraplegic who remained in the race over 24 hours, at times being carried and pulled by other racers – he was cut after failing to make time cut-offs. The other who dropped out of the running was Amy Palmiero-Winters, a single leg amputee who survived over three days of the four-day race before dropping out due to the cold temperatures.
Unlike other endurance races that offer a detailed map, Death Race competitors had no idea what to expect next as the course map and list of challenges are kept secret. For an endurance athlete, not knowing where the light is at the end of the tunnel can be sheer torture.