Why Workout With a Group?

Why Workout With a Group?

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Why Workout With a Group?

It seems like almost everyone is getting involved in group exercise today. On any given day in a warehouse, in a park or at the gym you can find people exercising together. There’s everything from Running Clubs, Active X, Roller Striders to Boot Camp classes. So why exactly are so many people jumping the ‘lone wolf’ ship to work out with others in a group setting? What is the big attraction?

I’ve been involved in fitness for 25 years now and have belonged to power lifting and running clubs but have also been that solitary figure in the gym and on the road. I do feel this has given me a pretty good understanding of the appeal and the dynamics of both. Years ago I started my own outdoor fitness company, Gut Check Fitness, which recently got voted “A-List Best Boot Camp” San Diego and Competitor Magazine’s, “Hardest Workout.” This is where my passion lies.

So again, why join a group?
There are three key reasons why so many people decide to join us at Gut Check for group fitness.

Motivation. Unless you’re that rare person that can jump out of bed at 5 am and hit the ground running, odds are getting and staying motivated are difficult for you. You are not alone. The majority of the people I’ve worked with over the years have had the same problem. That’s one of the great things about the group setting. Many people that attend a class will show up exhausted from life in general but once they join the group people they find themselves getting reenergized. Plus there’s the friendly fitness instructor there to light a fire under you rear. Aside from just getting motivated to get out of bed and exercise, there’s the motivation to really improve your current fitness level. If you work out with people faster, stronger or more fit, guess what, odds are you’re going to get into better shape. There’s an old saying that goes, “the lead dog sets the pace for the rest of the pack.” Think about it.

Accountability. Remember when you were a kid going to high school and mom would wake you up in the morning to go to school, she was holding you accountable. If you were anything like me, I wouldn’t have graduated without her wake up calls. Thanks mom! A workout group can do the same thing for your exercise routine. I’ve had countless clients over the years at Gut Check Fitness say, “I wouldn’t be there in the morning if I didn’t know that Kim, Ron, Nancy, etc were going to give me a hard time for not showing up.” Through the fear of group teasing they get out of bed. Hey, it works! Plus, there’s the friendly instructor again that keeps track of your tardiness. I take a daily roll at my classes then each week I look to see who’s been playing Harry Houdini. If I haven’t seen them for a week or two I’ll generally send them a friendly reminder with the threat of numerous burpees. This usually does the trick.

Group Camaraderie. Human beings are social creatures. Yes, a few are hermits and recluses but the majority of us love to be around other people. We love to laugh, joke and have fun. I feel this is one of the greatest products of a group workout setting. Nothing brings people closer quite like misery and physical suffering. If you’ve ever done a boot camp or similar class you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Many people sign up to get more fit and along the way become friends through this mutual ritual. Many become lifelong best of friends. My classes not only work hard together but they play hard together. We regularly have happy hours, wine tastings, and sports days do races and events together and sincerely enjoy one another’s company. It’s truly one of the best ways to meet people like you and develop a common bond while getting into the best shape possible.

As I stated above, joining a workout group can help keep you motivated, hold you accountable and help you develop a sense of group camaraderie but there’s one more aspect I’d like to briefly mention and that’s actual hands on human interaction. It seems we’ve become so dependent on email and texting today that the skill of human interaction is slowly disappearing. We can do just about everything virtually today without ever talking to a person. That is outside of a group fitness setting. Here you have to get involved. Oh you can try to escape to the back of the pack but a good instructor will integrate you into the group whether you like or not. That’s why it’s called group dynamics and that’s why technology will never replace the good ole fashioned group workout setting. Get out of your cubicle, your car or your house and go meet other people that have a common interest just like you. You never know, you might just meet some real friends instead of the one’s you find online.

Blood, Sweat & Fear…

I stand atop Rabbit Peak Mountain, one of Southern California’s most technical and challenging hiking trails. In less than 5 months from now, this 22 mile round trip, beast of a trail will be the championship event in the King of the Hill trail running series. An event, not for the faint-hearted, that will see upwards of 8000’ of elevation gain for about 300 participants, 25% of which will compete with 30 – 50lbs of sand and water weight on their backs, and this considered by some is the “easy” part… welcome to the new evolution of endurance racing!

Over 10 years ago, the endurance industry exploded. Marathons and triathlons became the fastest growing sports throughout the world. Millions of people registered for events, and millions competed year in and year out. Ironman triathlons had become the “standard” in pushing one’s physical limits, and why shouldn’t it have been, I mean to Swim 2 miles, Bike 100 miles, and Run 26 miles all in one event can give anyone a good beat down. These 2 sports categories continue to grow to this day but in today’s give me more while doing less society, younger people are finding new ways to challenge themselves physically, without the hassle and time demanding needs of marathons and triathlons. Enter endurance racing’s new sibling, Obstacle Course Racing, an adventure style race designed to test ones endurance and strength mixing running with climbing, jumping, and fighting through mud and water. The last 2 years have seen the rise of Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and Muddy Buddy, each of which pushes the envelope in regards to physical and mental challenges that each participant must complete to finish the race.

Enter the King of the Hill trail running series, a 2nd year series that has started making waves in the endurance industry not as an Obstacle Course Race, and not as a trail race, but as a hybrid of the two. The King of the Hill series was created by the Guinness Book of World Records “World’s Fittest Man”, Joe Decker. Decker, who has competed in many of the world toughest events, and even holds the title of 2-time champion of the Death Race (considered by some, the toughest event in the world), created the series as a testament and a challenge to the training he provides his clients through his Gut Check Boot Camp classes. Based in San Diego, Decker knew that San Diego County provided many of Southern California’s most beautiful and challenging trails, he also knew these trails wouldn’t support vehicles to drive up and drop off obstacles, such as walls and hay bales. So Joe decided to take the trail running concept and mix it with fitness challenges, which include Burpees, Pushups, Jump Squats, and Mountain Climbers to name a few plus everything you can do with a 50lb sandbag. In 2011, the King of the Hill series saw an average of 125 participants, of all skill levels compete in 3 events, all of different lengths and difficulties. The goal, simple… run to the top of the mountain, touch the flag, and run back down, but along the way you will have to complete 4-6 fitness challenges of 25-50 reps at each station, not an easy task when you have already run 1-2 miles uphill.

Decker, has raised the bar in 2012, making the challenges more difficult, the distances much longer, and the trails more technical. The Challenges… the King of the Hill will once again and always offer the “normal” race of running with fitness challenges up to the top and back, but now offers the “Bad Ass” division. A division that will see participants compete in each race and each fitness challenge with a 30 – 50 lb bag of sand on their back, plus any water they carry. The Distances… participants will be treated with a variety of distances from 6-22 miles, with the last 2 of the series being 12 and 22 respectively. The Technical… the King of the Hill series has added Rabbit Peak Mountain to the mix of trail races. A trail, in which participants must climb over rocks, battle the vegetation, and race in over 8000’ of elevation gain. Mandatory gear will include a pair of pliers (for the jumping cholla), snake bite kit, first aid kit and a death waiver. Does this sound like it’s for you? If so now it’s time to step up the training.

Question: How do I train for these types of events? Since most of these events involve cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and strength, flexibility and a whole lot of intestinal fortitude this means you’re going to have to train all these components to get ready for the challenge. Here’s a sample weekly workout outline that can certainly get you on the right path.

Monday & Thursday – Strength training
We know that there will be quite a bit of bodyweight calisthenics including burpees, push-ups, starbursts, mountain climbers, sit-ups and more. In addition you’ll most likely encounter sandbag exercises with 30 – 50lbs. These could include shoulder presses, squats, walking lunges, weighted sit-ups, etc. A good way to begin would be to list these exercises in a column on a piece of paper one after the other. Next decide how many reps you can do of each. Beginners might start with 3 circuits of 10 reps each and advanced athletes might even consider doing a descending pyramid of 50-40-30-20-10. That will surely leave a mark but certainly get you ready. All you’d need to purchase is a $2 bag of sand from Lowe’s.

Tuesday & Friday – Speed or hill/stair training
In all of these events you’re going to find some pretty good hills and would imagine you’d like to run fast. So to do this you have to train for it. For example Tuesday is speed day. You can head to a track or a park with a loop that you know. Start out with a warm up loop then get after it. Couple options are to train by distance like run 400m, 800m, 1200m and finish with 1600m. Or you can run 4 x 400 one week, then 4 x 800 couple weeks later. Really depends on your current ability level and how hard you’re willing to push. Then Friday would be hills or stairs training. Find something either in your area, jog over to it and try to get as many repeats as you can in 30-45 min. You might even want to add another repeat or a little more time each week. In order to run hills effectively you’ve gotta run them in training.

Wednesday & Sat. or Sun.
Time for longer easier runs to get you ready for distances you are going to be running. Here’s an option, whatever distance you run on Wednesday, say 5 miles, then double that distance on Sat/Sun to 10 miles. Of course if this is tom much you are always free to modify to your needs. The key to these days are to enjoy yourself, have fun and always be sure to listen to your body. It’ll tell you if you need to back off.

With today’s world of sports changing, and more and more unique events popping up, yesterday’s Ironman is today’s Spartan race. The King of the Hill series is quickly becoming a leader in “hybrid” endurance racing, and to be a leader in today’s world you need a little bit of attitude… I see plenty in these events, with even more to come.

The “World’s Fittest Man” Insane Tests of Mental and Physical Endurance

It’s amazing today to see all the crazy and insane events that are out there for people like me to pay big money to enter only to have ourselves tortured, beaten and battered. What a crazy wonderful world we live in. I have competed in many of them around the word and plan to continue to until the day I exit this place. People often ask, “Why do you continue to do this nonsense and put yourself at risk?” I reply, “I cannot imagine life without it. This is the stuff that keeps me young mentally, that keeps me excited to live. I love being able to put this wonderful human body of mine out there only to see how far it will go before the tires fall off. And trust me, it truly keep on ticking!” Have fun finding your own crazy, fun events to challenge yourself.

tough guyTough Guy UK – The phenomena of Tough Guy© has now evolved into cult status with mythical legends to a worldwide audience and competitors from every continent coming here to try to beat this ordeal and enjoy the unique spirit of friendship and amiability. It is set in over 150 acres of fertile land where spring waters will wash away your miseries and replace them with smiles of achievement.

Each year a new theme is built into Tough Guy this ensures that it remains the world’s safest most dangerous taste of mental physical pain endurance toughest events. Tough Guy will always be a physically challenging, mentally demanding, fear inducing, visual spectacular. After you have taken part you will understand why thousands keep coming back, year after year to experience some of the most demanding yet rewarding challenges of their life!

I love this event. It’s absolutely insane but so much fun. Nothing like swimming in frigid waters, running through fire and then crossing an electric field while still wet. This is not for the faint of heart.

raidRaid Gauloises – The Raid Gauloises is a Sports-Adventure-Nature concept that calls upon nothing more than man, his resourcefulness, intelligence, experience and energy, excluding all outside intervention and use of motorized vehicles. This is absolute self-sufficiency, total immersion in a natural environment in search of others, of oneself, and of another kind of life far from the usual everyday existence in our highly mechanized societies.
This is an epic adventure race. The year I did it we raced 520 miles across the Himalayas from Janapur, India to Lhasa, Tibet. The views and scenery were absolutely awe inspiring.
http://www.raid-gauloises.com/





barkley100buckleBarkley 100 Trail Race – The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100 mile races in the world. It has 52,900 feet of climb (and 52,900 feet of descent), more than any other 100 mile race, more than the 33,000 ft. of climb at Hardrock, and more than the 45,000 ft. at Nolan’s 14.

Since the race began in 1986, only 8 runners out of about 700 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff. Mark Williams of the UK finished first in 1995 in 59:28. In 2001, after several failed attempts, Blake Wood, 42, NM, and David Horton, 50, VA, finished together in 58:21, only to be disqualified for inadvertently leaving the course to follow a parallel route for about 200 yards. This route (on the south side of the stream instead of the north side) has slightly better footing and had been the normal route until 2000.

This is a true purist’s Ultra Marathon. There are no aid stations, no fans, hardly any trail and tons of elevation, briars and insane weather. I made 2 loops in 2008 and will hopefully be going back for another try in 2010. http://www.mattmahoney.net/barkley

cal strongest manCalifornia’s Strongest Man Competition – I really enjoy Strong Man competitions for their true test of human strength. It’s you against massive tires, huge atlas stones, monster trucks, and other large implements of torture. The nice thing is that many events offer weight classes for us smaller guys and yes, even girls. There are many incredible female competitors out there that are many times beating the boys today. Watch out guys!
http://www.youtube.com/user/GutCheckFitness#p/c/7CA8B8167FE6E59D/3/svnCTSMKUyE








death raceThe Death Race – A friend sent me this link and had to check out. It looked so insane that I even decided to sign up for it next year on my 40th birthday. At least like the name states there’s no beating around the bush.
Very challenging race. Course has been determined. 24 hours to finish with cut offs. The cut offs will not be in effect until Noon on race day. You must make the cut offs or you’ll be eliminated from the race. Expect to cry, scream, barbed wire, wood chopping, mud, water, ponds, waterfalls, etc. $2000 in prize money. Remember – 24 hours to finish.
http://www.youmaydie.com/

I know this kinda stuff might not be for everyone but if you are looking for something new, different or just plain crazy, give it a try. As scary as they seem or pretend to be I’ve actually never heard of anyone actually dying during one of these events. Just many times you wish you would. Have fun and never stop playing like a kid.

The Ultimate Suck: An Endurance Race Worthy of the Title

by Original Article

Another weekend of adventure, this time I was traveling to an Endurance Race that has been given the title, The Ultimate Suck.  Hosted by Joe Decker of Gut Check Fitness out of California, I knew this was an event I could not miss even if I wouldn’t be competing.  It took about four hours and forty minutes to drive straight from work to the central Illinois region, to the small town of Cuba, IL, just outside of Peoria, IL.  As I drove down the winding, hilly, dirt gravel road I remember thinking to myself how this felt like the setting to one of those awful “scary” movies that always seem to take place out in the country. When Endurance Challenge Obstacle Race AdventureI finally saw the camp sites come into vision I could see just past them there was a bonfire blazing and the red LED display lit up as it tracked how many hours the racers had been competing. They were already a few hours in.

There were no racers in site when I checked in and was directed to park by the campsite for Tim, who myself and Candie were crewing for.  When I arrived most of the racers were still out on a hike. I changed into my typical race gear and sat by the fire while waiting for the first few racers to start coming back. I brought my camera with for the event, I had been wanting to shoot an endurance event like this for a while now.  There could not have been a better opportunity, a 36 hour event, with a small enough attendance that photographing every athlete was possible. I don’t suspect that will be possible next time The Ultimate Suck makes it out to the Midwest.

Wood Splitting – Night One

When the racers started to come in they were way behind the lead competitor, Ben, who was almost done chopping his wood when I plopped down by the fire. Each racer had a pile of logs with their number on it that they had to chop. After that they had to take stack by stack over to Joe’s brother’s house which was about a mile roundtrip. Typically it took four to five The Ultimate Suck Endurance Racetrips for the racers to finish this. When Tim came in we couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculously large stumps Joe had save for him.  When Joe came over he even laughed at the sick joke all the enormous stumps were and replaced one of them with a smaller one.

Tim hacking away at his ridiculous collection of stumps.

After Tim finished running all his logs back and fourth he was given his next task, which was to travel through this ravine in reverse from how they went through it earlier in the day.  I opted to join him on this excursion and we were accompanied by two other racers including Michael Sandercock of Epic Racing Arena, whom I first met at the St. Patty’s Day GoRuck Challenge.  The ravine hike was outstanding.  It was muddy, wet, and full of natural obstacles. We covered a few miles, avoided full submersion by climbing out of the ravine at one part and made our way back to the farm. Then they had to dig some post holes. That’s when I decided it was time to take a little nap.
Ben made sure every racer finished their 3 miles.

When I woke up they were beginning the Marines Corps. Fitness test.  That was one of the most amazing parts of the race.  Lead competitor Ben, finished the 3 mile run first, but he didn’t stop when he crossed the plane of that orange cone. No, he turned right back around and went back no more than an 1/8 of a mile and ran in with another racer.  He didn’t stop there, he did this four or five times until every one had made it back.

Ultimate Suck Endurance Race

Marines Corps PT Push Up Test

They moved on to the push-ups part of the PT test and Tim was just making it around the corner. He was pushing himself.  When he got back he was able to join in and do his push-ups and sit-ups separately.  At the conclusion of the fitness test the racers were told to go get their buckets and sandbags which were each 50lbs for men and 30lbs each for the women.  Tim knew this was the end for him.  He assured me that he knew his body, he knew his limits and he was happy with how far he had made it.  I was a little bummed he didn’t attempt the bucket carry but when someone decides they are done it is hard to get them out of that mindset. I pushed on him a little but he insisted and was happy with his performance, as long as he wasn’t going to regret it, I was not going to piss him off by pushing the subject too much.

“Why can’t this be over?” I am sure that’s what Nicole was thinking.

I took off with my camera to document this bucket carry that would cover some decent mileage going up and down a very steep gravel paved, backroad hill.  Some of the competitors didn’t seem to be phased by the distance or the weight they had to carry. The Ultimate Suck Bucket CarryOthers it was a completely different story. Mike was struggling early on.  I was actually concerned he wouldn’t get past this challenge.  No matter how far he fell back, he never quit, he never surrendered.  There was a group of us hanging by the camp site and Mike had laid down to take what he thought was just a 20 minute nap.  He shot up out of the tent resurgent.  When we told him he had already been out for nearly two hours his face dropped, “Do you think I can still finish he asked?’  Unsure what challenges lay ahead and how much time he had left before the end of Phase 2 (the second 12 hour session).

Mike just resting…turned to sleeping for over an hour and a half. Lesson? Never lay down (without an alarm)…you’ll pass the EFF out.

As it turned out Joe let him attempt to catch back up and Mike was off. I would like to turn it over now so you can hear the story from Mike’s point of view. He is a testament to the definition of Fortitude. Here is his story of making one of the most amazing comebacks any of us ever witnessed or heard of.

the suck put mike to sleep at endurance raceThe sandbag carry didn’t treat me quite as well as the other competitors. My stubborn nature is great for some things, but I decided to farmer’s carry the buckets long after my shoulder and grip strength had failed me. I crossed the finish line totally exhausted, but relieved, and headed to my tent to grab some food. My legs, shoulders, hands, and arms ached, my heart didn’t want to stop pounding, and my stomach was trying to turn itself inside-out.

Tim was kind enough to offer up one of his MRE’s out of concern that I looked “as white as a ghost” and I laid back to catch my breath for what I thought was about half an hour, after which I hopped up to continue my quest to finish. In actuality, I was out cold for up to an hour and a half, and at one point told one of the volunteers that I thought I was done; I don’t remember any of this. I rushed over to Joe to see if I could still compete (technically you’re not supposed to sleep) and he gave me the green light after mentioning that I had a lot of catch-up to do. I took to the new set of tasks with new life.

What a lovely bunch of heavy objects to throw around.

Stage 2 of The SUCK consisted of some more enjoyable aspects than the previous stage. It started out with a strongman circuit including kettlebell throws, (more) farmers carries, sled drags, rock deadlifts, and tire flips. After completion of the circuit, you had to grab your PFD (personal flotation device) The Ultimate Suck Strongman during Endurance Raceand run over to the shooting range, where they had a set of 3 targets at different ranges. If you missed a target, you had to perform a burpee penalty.

Strongman Competition.

Luckily, I have some shooting experience and knocked this section out without trouble. The staff at the range then instructed me to run down to the bridge. When I arrived at the bridge, there was nobody there to direct me, so I continued along the path for up to a mile uphill, at which point I decided it would be best to turn around and double-check with the staff at the shooting range. Luckily, I ran into one of the racers on the way back, who lead me into the dry creek that we traversed the previous night. The MRE and rest definitely left me refreshed, but the food settled heavily in my stomach and the time off my feet had allowed some blisters to form on my soles. Each step felt like knives digging into my feet, but I continued to push on. At the end of the creek lay a disgustingly green and stagnant pond with a quicksand-like bottom and some really odd hot/cold spots. We had to swim across this pond to continue on the path, and after climbing out of a ravine, proceeded to jump back into a smaller green pond to get to our next task, the gas chamber. Apparently, Joe thought twice about spraying us directly in the face with pepper spray, and instead set up a hut with a fine mist from a pepper spray canister. Racers perform 10 burpees Strongman competition during endurance raceand are free to head on their way. I’ve always been a fan of horribly spicy things, and I left the gas chamber with only a slight burn in my eyes. From this point, each racer was tasked to carry 5 loads of firewood back to HQ, and proceed to dig a posthole. I was sure to pop a few Advil before taking up the posthole task.

Maureen Entering the Gas Chamber.

The 24-hour mark was drawing near as I scraped out the last few inches of post-hole dirt. It was at this point that Nicole and Joe informed me I had to complete the entire circuit one more time, otherwise I would be disqualified. Time for completion: Less than 2.5 hours. I knew the trip from HQ to the gas chamber would take me about an hour, the log carry would take me 30-45 minutes, leaving me just under an hour for the post-hole dig. It was very possible, but I couldn’t stall or make any mistakes.

A few volunteers tagged on my heels to pace me as I took off towards the dry creek path, but I wasn’t about to let myself get DQ’ed after all the hard work I had put in thus far. The Advil was finally starting to kick in as I pushed the pace to an almost reckless level through the rough terrain of the creek. I scaled the slopes up to the green pond and jumped right in, moving as efficiently as possible through the water. One of the farm dogs, Tess, had jumped in alongside me and was furiously doggy-paddling to keep up. It’s the little things like that that lift your spirits and lighten your mood. After that, it was all downhill, as I returned from the trail after being gone just over 30 minutes. By the time I had run back and forth with my 5 handfuls of wood, Igas chamber during endurance race the ultimate suck had over 1.5 hours to finish my post-hole dig. With the stage finish in sight, I dug with everything in my power and finished the 36” hole with over an hour to spare. Towards the end, Nicole walked over with a radio to see how I was doing. “He has about an inch left!” she reported.

I hear Joe on the other line saying “Tell him he has one minute to finish it.”

“Thanks Joe…” I replied sarcastically.

“Tell Mike he just bought himself 15 seconds with that comment.”

As with the beginning of each new stage, we started out with a PT test. This time it was a modification of the Navy test, and consisted of a 1.5-mile run, with timed dive-bomber pushups and leg lifts. When Joe told us to bring over both buckets with sand, I knew what was coming next. I wasn’t happy about it, but after coming back and avoiding DQ, I wasn’t about to give up with only 12 hours left.

enduring the bucket of suck

Enduring the Buckets of Suck.

The task was to carry both buckets of sand up to the top of a hill and back—a distance Joe mentioned would be about 1.5 miles round-trip. It wound up being 2.6 miles. I was smarter with the carries this time around, and took one sandbag and bucket on my shoulder at a time. I carried one as far as I could, and then went back and carried the second. It wasn’t the fastest method, but I was able to finish with little to no grip strength left in my hands, with only an hour or so lost time from the other racers. I still felt strong and ready to catch up with the other racers on the 10-mile run.

It was at this point I realized there was some disconnect between my wishes and capabilities. The 2.6-mile carry had taken a toll on my feet and they were blistered on every contact point. I attempted to cushion them with pads and rolls of gauze prior to leaving for the trek, but I knew it was going to be a mental game from this point on. Advil no longer took away the sharp pain of walking and was even starting to upset my stomach at this point.

One of the volunteers had offered to pace me and I hobbled up towards the fire to meet her. I could barely walk at this point, let alone run. “I think I might be done,” I told her as I approached, and immediately stopped myself. If I could just push through this mentally for a few hours, I could make it.

The run started at a slow shuffle, but my feet were not getting any better. The poor form that resulted made it twice as exhausting to move just a little faster than a walking pace, so we slowed down to a brisk walk. It was at this point my mind started to fail on me. My balance started to go and I began to zigzag my way down the 10-mile trail, freezing since I was no longer running to keep my body temperature up. I started to see floating houses and at one point, the volunteer’s headlamp turned into a blow-up kiddie pool… which she subsequently flipped down the road like a tire. I have to admit, if she wasn’t there to talk to and keep me at least slightly sane, I may not have made it back.

Ultimate Suck Endurance Race FinishUpon reaching HQ some 3-4 hours later, I was instructed to perform burpee leap-frogs the final 1/8 mile to camp. At this point, there were only a few hours left before the 7am finish of the event. The other racers had been chopping the remaining wood throughout the night.

When I arrived back at base, we were all instructed to grab our packs with 50lb weight for one, final ruck with Joe. We set off into the woods, and Joe proceeded to find some of the steepest, most awkward hills possible to climb. The bottoms of my feet were absolutely screaming at this point and I couldn’t help but verbally reflect at this point. Flat land was one thing, but horribly uneven terrain was downright painful. After 4-5 hills, one of the racers nearly fainted, so Joe cut the ruck short and lead everyone back to camp.  After a few minutes, Joe issued the final challenge: Every remaining racer had to complete a mile run in under 15 minutes, and we would be done. With every ounce of energy we had left in our bodies, we pushed ourselves through that final mile to cross the finish line in less than 15 minutes.

“Hey Mike Smile!” – Me

When it was all said and done, you could see the excitement through the pure exhaustion in everyone’s face. Personally, The SUCK was one of the most incredible, rewarding experiences of my life and I am truly amazed at the incredible athletes that completed this race. We left with new friendships; new respect for each other, and new understanding of ourselves… plus a pretty awesome trophy. What more can you really ask for?

endurance races kick your ass

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom. Ben, passed the EFF out. Rick and Justin with celebratory brews. Mike passed out, again. And, Nicole giving Nicole a piggyback ride.

Thanks to Nicole, Joe, and the Decker family for putting this incredible event together. Thanks also to the amazing volunteers and crew that were out there in The SUCK with us. It wasn’t just the tasks and location that made this event, but the people, hospitality and perseverance that went along with it.

Mike is an incredible athlete and I am thrilled that he was willing to share his story with us. Thank you again, Mike.  I think you are more than ready for the Death Race. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Mike at the Legend of the Death Race Training Camp this November. He’ll crush it.

The remaining hours spent at the event we all shared stories, enjoyed some awesome homemade gravy and biscuits, and I finally shot my first gun ever, a 22 gauge shotgun. IT WAS AWESOME! I was never a fan of guns prior to this…that might have changed. One thing is for certain, I cannot wait until the next Ultimate SUCK. I will most definitely be competing next time Joe Decker brings his extreme endurance event to his parent’s lovely farm in the good ol’ Midwest.

Shotguns and Endurance Races