My name is Abe but everyone knows me like The Fox, I'm a Mexican Designer and Illustrator.
Twelve weeks and the date arrive friday 20 at noon Angel, that was the indication to all the participants of the race in a email before the race, full with a list of mandatory gear you must have for the race like a compact sleeping bag, camping tent, snake bite kit, water purification, ski goggles, 100’ of 3/8” rope, survival knife just a few of the thing they tell us to bring to the race.
The night before the storm
The night before the race I meet with a few of the races coming from USA,Valerie Smith the one a been in contact from a few weeks helping me a lot to know everything a can of a Death Race, and Matthew Waller, Jesus Chavez,Anthony Fredrickson, Kenney Butts and Rodrigo Colorado from Mexico we have a small dinner and a nice talk about what to expect about the race in the weekend.
After the dinner I go home I have to make my backpack so I take my Geigerrig 1600 with a 3 liters bag all the equipment they ask plus son extras just in case, and food not a lot just the necessary food to survive 30 to 40 hrs of race, I take 5 gels, 4 bags of Heed, 4 bags of perpetual, 5 recovery bars and 4 snickers bars. All set inside the bag was time to sleep I was trying to get 8 good hours of sleep something I didn’t accomplish.
The time arrive so we are in the Angel and Mexicans, Americans and one guy from Denmark, we receive our instructions and time to “choose a bus wisely” was the words from Tony Matesi. Two hours later we arrive to “El paso de Cortes” the point where Cortes pass with his army 500 years ago, but before we leave the bus you have to say the word Popocatepetl, easy for mexicans but not for americans, so I take a pen and write phonetically the pronunciation in some of them, we are all out of the bus and waiting for the other bus the “Iztaccíhuatl”.
The first instruction was “between this fence and the line of trees your numbers are hidden go the and find it, but you can’t leave your backpack here take all your things with you”, the first bus was already in the field and they pass the line of trees heading to the forest, my bus after a few minutes of thinking we get to the idea that they never hide it so we return at the starting point to see all the numbers in a pile, we take our numbers and we make a lines in front of balls of news paper, we take one and we make a count, new instructions are given right now.
“You have 18 runners missing from the other bus go and find them, you have 15min”
A drop my backpack and I start running to the forest after 2 milles of running I find the last three and the 48 runners returned to the beginning, everyone have a number and a ball of news paper, surprise it was a skull. The finisher skull everyone wants is now in your hands, they change the game you will have to carry the skull the full race with you and because is made of clay can broke anytime, you also have to take a dead fish and carry it.
First big challenge
We make into 4 teams each of 12 persons and the mission was a sprint of 5 milles beginning at 11,000 ft and finishing at almost 15,000 ft, at this point a lot the americans start having trouble breathing, nausea, feeling heavy, headache and more symptoms so I get close to some of them and I tell them stop talking and focus on your breathing you need oxygen or you will faint.
We reach the top and four hours later we have a new integrant a street dog start following us for the smell of fish, the first racer goes out the race, and new instructions.
“We have to go down the volcano 15 milles”
Head lamps on and we start going down in the middle of the night, in a pitch black night for long 5 hours, you can only see lights in front and back of your, people screaming in pain because it falls really hard, and the paramedics running to help them, we made it to the finish point losing just a couple of racers in the way down.
The long road full of logs begins
In the finish line was the full team of the Death Race, Mark Jones, Johnny Waite, Joe De Sena and Tony Matesi with a new assignment take 6 big logs out the pile in the middle of the gully and drag it 3 milles down to the river full of natural obstacles. It was a real struggle take the first out of the pile but we start moving, after 30 yards we hear the scream of Joe saying “leave your log there and come to help the rest of the teams if those logs aren’t moving in 5min all are DQ”.
We leave the log and start helping the others teams but at the moment I get back to my log there was a bunch of people so I return to see if anyone needs help with is log, the long walk start seven guys and one girl we start pulling that tree up and down obstacles until we reach a very old canal and you have to be very careful passing through, our log was the bigger of all probably over 900 pounds so we try pass and didn’t work, and we hit the base of the canal almost falling down, so they send us for a different path with other log behind of us.
We have to drag it for almost a mille until we get to the camp with a beautiful bonfire right in the middle, we were so happy until they say you get to fast here now lift the log until the rest of the teams get here if you leave it fall all of you are out of the race. We lift the 900 lbs log in our shoulders 8 at the time taking turn for resting for over 30 min then they change the rule, we most go and help the rest of the teams and bring it to the bonfire with his logs in less that 30 min.
The unexpected moment
We made to a point to help the rest of the teams get out of the river but it was a little tricky because we must use our ropes and a lot of people to do it, so we start dragging the first one and rocks start falling down hitting one guy in the chin really hard the paramedics have to take it out of the race and at this point the decision was taking out of the river only the two smallest logs and drag it bag to the bonfire, only this part take us one hour.
At the momento we get to the bonfire we have to make a circle around to hear the unexpected from Joe De Sena.
“One step to the from all races that get here with the first two logs, all of you are still in the race, the rest of the races take out your numbers you didn’t make in time for the cut, so all of you are out of the race, leave your numbers and follow Mark”.
In that moment I was in shock, I knew a few thing about Death Race before start and I knew that everything say in this race is serious never a joke so over 30 races are out of the race and only 10 remain, I start looking for facesFernando Cassanova, Neely Fortune was the faces I recognized but in that moment they where in shock just like me, Patrick Mies, Valerie, Jesus, Matthew, Anthony, Kenney all my friends from USA they are out of the race.
But then everything change again Johnny give two options to us: you can be the only official races now or leave your numbers, join the rest and no one is out of the race. After we feel we have an advantage taking a different path and 9 of 10 we vote to join the rest of the races, we leave ours numbers in the bonfire and we walk next to the rest of the races already in formation for exercise and we told them about our decision, everyone was so happy and we begin we the punishment 10,000 jumping jacks.
The race begin
At 5436 jumping jacks they say stop, and they say “the race is about to begin all your numbers are in that pool, all have to be inside before you start looking for you number, once you have it now you can go out take your backpack and start running”, so that’s what we did, everyone of us get in to that black/green and cold disgusting pool they give the signal and boom Patrick jump in to the bottom of the pool and bodies of dead mouses start to float, Patrick give me all the numbers he get and I start give them away, but lucky me the last one was my number so I came out of the pool at the same time with Fer Casanova and we start running for half a mille in to a water canal where we have to do 200 yards with our chest next to the ground and black water, go under a tunnel, run up river, climb a waterfall, and run back next to the pool for the next instructions.
We have to take half of one big log around 180-220 pounds each, with a target on it, and take it 2 milles up hill to the shooting place with our 3 bullets. Going up the hill was hard my log was really big and in this moment of the race I was in 4th place of the race I couldn’t believe I was doing it so great at this point so I speed up to catch Fer and the other two guys but 30 yards before the shooting place two big pool that you have to cross with the log, the obstacle in the obstacle before the obstacle that was in my mind. So I make my shoots and them back the hill to get with Johnny “Oh nice two shoot in the target, so now you have to do to laps under water in the pool, it have to be all under water” yes I have to get back to that dirty cold pool but now I can take some of my clothes.
There was Fer and the other guy both doing 2 laps like me, Fer came out first of the pool just for one minute then I run back to Johnny just to hear “Good job brother you are killing this race, now take your log and do the same thing again” I think he was kidding at the beginning but no, nothing in Death Race is a joke, so I take my log and I start doing the same path I just did minutes before. When I reach the shooting place I was in second place but I couldn’t see the first place shooting or going down the hill and we start wondering where he was?
I make my shoots and return to Johnny for two more laps in the pool, and I ask “Brother where is the first place”, “I don’t know, but the your log and go to Mark he will give you the next instructions”.
When I get there only 50 yards away from Johnny, Mark says to me leave your log and take your target save it, now take 10 of the bonfire logs is they are to small you will have to do 25 burpees for each one, I choose wisely, Mark check my log says it was ok and now use my knife to put my number in one of those logs and pack them water proof.
After 20 min fighting in that task Fer and I we finish, the new instruction was “take all your log up river” that’s it. We start marching but I make a big mistakes in my packing and that bring me problems Fer let me and a lot of people start passing me I was getting frustrated, but after 1hrs and 3 milles later I get to a climbing wall, “you have to make a trip to the top and not fall them return to the base camp with your logs”, sound easy but my hands and arms were really tired in this moment for carrying logs all morning, the climbing take more that I expected and I return really tired to base camp just to see all the guys that pass me doing crazy things.
Summer Camp beginnings
“Hey did you know what summer camp is?” Mark ask me
“I say NO, I never been in one”, so Johnny came to me and say I’ll explain to.
The first thing is spinning in this swings, then you jump on those logs, you go to the rope between those trees cross side to side, you get down and pass this three swings (no falling or you have to start again from the logs), pull this 150 lbs log 6 yards, flip this 180 lbs log, burpees with a river rock, and rolling in the grass.
First time 25 each, then 50/75/100, easy cake men no? In this moment of the race I lost a lot of my advantage and I was in 6 place so I decide to put some speed in this and catch up on the top three, but the summer camp have a different idea for me. I start with my 25 spinning in the swing and that was it, I feel dizzy, sick, low sugar and I was lying down in the grass. This was the moment I say SHIT Im not going to finish this race, I finish my round of 25 and start my 50 spinning again this time I tie myself in the swing and the throw up arrive, I was feeling even worse and Joe De Sena was in my ass saying you are not going to finish surrender, this is to much for you, you are not strong enough. I start my 75 but I decide leave at the end the spinning so I’ll have more time to put myself together and in the middle of my round Joe start screaming “you have 15 min to be in your 100 or you are out of the race”.
So I try to keep with my pass and just before my 75 spinning I start having doubt if I’ll make it or not Tony saw my face came to me and say the most important part of the race for me, you are going to hate it, is not going to be fun, but you made it to his point start saying to yourself I CAN DO IT. That small talk change me, I tie again to the swing, I throw up more that the last time and I finish my 75, I start my 100 with more strength and speed and 5 min later Joe scream if you are not in your 100 you are out of the race, only me and 3 more girls we were still in, for this moment Tyler was in the bonfire he already won the race and more runners start arriving from the last challenge to finish the race.
I finish strong my 100, I tie for the last time to the swing for my spinning and start throw up one more time and I faint for the last 40 laps, I open my eyes when my feet touch the ground and Johnny say to me “You did it brother now is the puzzle”, I couldn’t understand nothing in that moment I walk 10 yards to Mark he give me ten logs and say to me, 4 up, 3 down, 2 high, 1 sky, and say WHAT? After he repeated two more times he say you have 3 min to do it, just in the moment Mark leave me I forget the puzzle, but Alex one of the volunteers repeat for me, I made the puzzle just 5 sec left in the count, I was safe of doing 100 thrusters with a 100 lbs log.
Mark came to me and say one last thing before you finish you have to run the same path you do in the morning backwards with no backpack, in this moment I was last in the race, so I start running, get down the waterfall, run the river, go the tunnel, climb to the canal and run back to the bonfire, once I get there they tell me get your fish to the fire and your skull once you bite your fish you are a official finisher, 10 min later after my fish cook a little bit a take a small bite and I finish the Mexico Death Race in 11 place of only 12 official finishers.
I was in a different planet, I couldn’t understand nothing, I was a zombie when people start to congratulate me, we take a nice dinner all the races and the staff and I still was a zombie it take one night of bad rest to wake up and realice that I finish the Mexico Death Race, it was close to 29 hours to pain and joy but it was worth, the big factor here was the altitude making a lot of experienced Death Race finishers couldn’t make this one.
This is really a experience everyone have to live to bad this is the last year of the Death Race, I hope see you in Vermont for Summer Death Race.