A Lehighton man is taking on the ultimate endurance challenge on June 21, when he will participate in The Spartan Death Race. The 48-plus hour event will take place in Pittsfield, Vt.
Doug Bowman, 44, who has competed in numerous endurance races, including the Ultra Beast last fall in Killington, Vt., said that this is an endurance race designed to challenge his mental state even more than his body.
While there are millions of running races, thousands of marathons, hundreds of triathlons and dozens of ultramarathons, there is only one Spartan Death Race.
The race has been held annually since 2005.
The competitors are among the toughest and most seasoned endurance athletes on earth. The hurdle and challenge-driven race requires competitors to complete a series of (15-20) grueling mental and physical challenges throughout a 40-mile course that runs through the Vermont woods.
During the Death Race, Doug may be asked to chop wood for two hours, carry a 20 lb. stump around for hours, lift 10 to 30 lbs. rocks for five hours, build a fire, cut a bushel of onions, crawl through mud under barbed wire, or after 20-hours of racing, memorize the names of the first 10 U.S. Presidents or a Bible verse, hike to the top of a mountain and recite them back in order.
Unlike other endurance races that offer a detailed map, Doug and his fellow Death Racers will have no idea what to expect next as the course map and list of challenges are kept secret.
This provides the Death Racers with one of their biggest challenges as the length of the race can range from 24 to 48 hours.
For an endurance athlete, not knowing where the light is at the end of the tunnel can be sheer torture.
Ninety percent of those who register will not complete this endurance race.
At 44 years old, Doug has slimmed his body though physical exertion and diet and now feels the time is right to take on this mind and body challenge.
In the past, he has finished in the top five percent in Tough Mudder events, which were extremely physically challenging.
Hundreds of ultra-endurance athletes from throughout the United States and around the world have signed on to test their mental and physical prowess. In the 2012 race there were 344 entries, with only 51 finishing the event.
Doug believes that he has an edge over many of the other Death Racers because he has the emotional aspect of the race figured out.
"I know that most of this race is emotional," he said. "While I have been physically challenging myself by walking with 40, 60, 80 and sometimes 100 lbs. packs on my back, its my relationship with God that will mentally prepare me.
While never dreaming that someday he would journey into marathons and endurance races, he began pushing his body to the limit a few years ago when he won a weight loss contest sponsored by his employer. He took off 34 lbs. and won the cash prize. Since then he has lost 40 pounds more.
Doug is presently studying for the ministry at Lancaster Bible College. He believes that God's gift of peace will see him through the mental aspect of the race.
"Peace givers you a s smile on your face and helps me keep going," he said.
The website for the Spartan Death Race is youmaydie.com.