Few could argue that obstacle racing has taken the country by storm. New races are popping up seemingly overnight, each claiming to be better than the last. Within this movement lives a sub-set of events designed to do more than simply challenge you for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. This particular breed of obstacle races has been created to take you well beyond that point. While some brag that you may die, and others that you’ll be the world’s toughest, only one is the brain-child of two-time summer Death Race champion and Guinness World Records holder, Joe Decker.
Decker, owner and founder of the San Diego based boot camp company Gut Check Fitness, has brought us the SUCK; a grueling, overnight, ass-kicker that Livestrong.com’s Pete Williams named one of the most extreme fitness tests in the world. Participants face every manner of challenge imaginable (and even a few unimaginable ones), from team-based to individual, for upwards of 14 continuous hours before being turned on each other in head-to-head competition. As an added bonus, each SUCK is capped off with an hour long Gut Check Fitness workout that Joe describes as “the grand finale of suffering and personal enlightenment”.
Once only a local phenomenon, Joe has taken the SUCK national; setting up Regional Qualifiers across the U.S. that culminate this Fall in a 36 hour main event ominously dubbed the Ultimate SUCK. I had a chance to interview Joe before experiencing the SUCK firsthand at the East Coast Regional Qualifier this April.
O-RACER Mag: What is the SUCK?
JD: It’s a term that started back in Nam (Vietnam). The suck describes any situation where conditions are undesirable and it’s a testament to the dedication of those men and women who endure it. With our overnight camps, we introduce people to the suck in a safe, structured environment so they can learn to embrace it. We want everyone to leave the event a stronger person.
O-RACER Mag: How did The SUCK start?
JD: I had already been training like this for years. I’d take my sports science background and experience and use that to get ready for events like the Barkley and the (Spartan) Death Race. When I went to compete in the Death Race for the second time, I took a team with me. Leading up to the event we would incorporate these overnight training sessions a couple of times a month to prepare. That’s how the SUCK came to be. So although the SUCK is a stand-alone challenge, it definitely has a training aspect to it as well.
O-RACER Mag: Who should do The SUCK?
JD: Anybody. Anyone that wants to get after it and see what they are made of. My goal is to get like minded people together who want to push their limits. Despite the competitiveness of the event, we all encourage each other. No one ever gets left behind. You should at least have a basic level of fitness or experience with obstacle racing before joining up though.
O-RACER Mag: What is the Ultimate Suck?
JD: I thought of all the races I’ve ever done and all of the different training methods I’ve encountered, took the best from each, and bunched them up in one big event. There’s military boot camp stuff like calisthenics tests and exposure to pepper spray. I also threw in some good old Mid-Western farm chores I did growing up like bailing hay and digging post holes. Competitors can expect to carry all sorts of heavy and awkward objects. Plus there’s plenty of trail running and strong man challenges to help even the playing field between runners and bigger guys.
O-RACER Mag: Are there any big names in obstacle racing attending the Ultimate SUCK this year?
JD: We have World’s Toughest Mudder winner Amelia Boone, Josue Stephens of the Nicaraguan Survival Run, Kieth Jolly of SERE Performance, and Sean Dickson of Combat Fitness training will all be showing up.
As with the SUCK, Joe is working on expanding Gut Check Fitness across the United States, so keep your eyes peeled. We expect big things from this company in the years to come. The Ultimate SUCK is August 30 through September 1, 2013 in Cuba IL. Click here to register and be sure to check out Joe’s website, www.gutcheckfitness.com, for more info and dates.
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