A few classic Spartan Death Race photos featuring many who have become the rock stars of the Spartan Race / Peak Races world: Amelia Boone, Isaiah Vidal, Yancy Culp, Robin Crossman, the Borden Family, Johnny Waite, Pete Coleman, Ella Kociuba, Rob Barger, Jason Jaksetic, Josh Fiore and many others! If you notice a name I missed, leave it in the comments please!
Part crazy, part inspiring,always thought-provoking - this year a Guinness World Record was set. Sometimes confusing, sometimes surprising, always enlightening - the Death Race is back.
What I love about photographing this event is that pretty quickly all pretense is gone. Self consciousness in gone. The athletes are focused on their challenges, their internal battles, and each other... and all that can be read on their faces. Extreme joy, exhaustion, pain, love and triumph.
This is one of the quick turn around social videos I cut for the Spartan during the race.
How do you tell a story of struggle and triumph? How do you show how truly and astonishingly difficult an endeavor is ... and how do you do that in a way that expresses the power and triumph experienced in overcoming that challenge? We used to depend on the narrative arc of a movie or a book, but we no longer tell or consume stories in a linear fashion. Today each image needs to stand on its own, and at the same time be part of a narrative expressed via multiple channels, sometimes simultaneously.
This weekend I photographed a 60 hour endurance event called the Spartan Agoge. Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend. Ones that I hope show the strength, joy, suffering and transcendent determination the participants experienced.
The Peak Mountain Bike race has taken a variety of forms since its inception. From the 666 to the "Gnarly Adventure." In 2017 the race became a Leadville Qualifier, and with that it was time to revamp it's image. For 2017 we came up with a new name "Peak Woodsplitter." That inspired names for the rest of the Peak series which now contains the Peak Woodsplitter, Peak Snowdevil Winter Ultra/ Snowshoe Race, and the ultimate race the Peak Bloodroot Ultra. Along with the new names we designed a series of "stamp" based logo treatments, social and email campaigns.
The idea was to keep a reference to the Peak history with the classic peak mountain element, while embracing a gritty homegrown feel that the races have as compared to their big brother Spartan Races.
One of the best ways to get attention, engagement, and show off the Green Mountain Trails where the race is held is with a series of videos distributed via social media and email.
I've been shooting and watching the Death Race since it's first year when my friend athlete Doug Lewis joined the race thinking it was a 10 mile trail run with a few obstacles. He was surprised to find there was almost NO running, but his competitive nature kicked in and he not only completed, but won the race.
This year as a videographer I was actually part of the race. Each competitor had to demo a work out for the camera, later on they had to memorize a quote from Ernest Shackleton and recite it on camera.
"Men Wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
When not shooting video I managed to grab a few snapshots of the athletes.
Every year the race is different. But every year the athletes and the stories that develop amaze me.
Some of the Death Racers and race volunteers have written about their experiences. What does it mean to quit? to DNF? How does it help you grow?
Vermont Scrubnut "Winter Death Race Insanity"
Race Ipsa Loquitor "The First DNF"
Fitness Overload "Winter Death Race 2013"
Legend of the Death Race " Winter Death Race: Frozen "
Thanks Death Racers.
Just a few quick images of the Death Race tonight:
This is not the official Death Race video. I was just one of 3 camera's on the event, so there are many challenges not represented here. But I couldn't resist putting together a quick montage with a few of the shots from this weekend's religion themed 45 hour Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield Vermont.
The Death Race. Where do I begin. It's a happening more than a race, to complete it or survive it is to win. You don't know when it starts (last year it began unexpectedly at check in Friday night rather than "race start" Saturday morning.) You don't know when it ends. Race directors tell participants only what's next, not what comes after next. It's physically, mentally and emotionally gruelling. The first year only 7 people ran the race, this year they have to limit the number of entrants.
But the challenge as a producer is how do you show that suffering on TV. How do you get across how hard this race really is? The answer is tell the stories of some of the participants, and be in the right place at the right time. Last year, with a crew of only 2 videographers, 1 sound man, 1 PA and 1 intern we tried to follow the constantly changing action over a 48 hour period. Below is our 13 minute edit, now being used by the event organizers as a promo..
If you can't sit through the 13 minute adventure, you can watch a light :45 second promo on Youtube that I cut from the first year of the event.
What do I love about this business? Getting to see and experience new things with great people. This weekend we shot the Peak Pittsfield Vermont Death Race for Outside TV. Thank you Wendy Erikson, Pete Nenortas, Traci Templeton and Rosie Cleland for going WAY beyond the call of duty. You moved ladders in the middle of the woods, found warm clothes for a nearly hypothermic racer, pulled a 24 hour shift, and got great video and audio - and all with a smile.
And thank you athlete and writer Mark Jenkins for being gracious under the extreme pressure of competing in the "Daath Race."
A little bit of our coverage of the first ever Spartan / Peak Death Race in 2007. My friend, Olympic skier, Doug Lewis and I thought it would make great TV so we started working on a few promos hoping to sell the show.
... and yes, that's David Goggins you see running in the Pittsfield Peaks Ultra (which would become the Bloodroot Ultra.)
On March 27th I was envious of the "pause" to reassess and learn I kept hearing about. I was fortunate enough to still be working, so I committed to a more active blog. This is my chance to think out loud about podcasting, messaging, story, nature, family and life.
~ Marion Abrams