The Death Race – What I Learned


Ken Lubin participated in last year’s Death Race. This year he’s doing it again. With the epic race just days away, Ken shares with us some of what he has taken away from his initial “indoctrination.” Part 2 of 2. You can keep up with Ken and his Death Race experience at his blog. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to hear from Ken after the event and find out how knowing a little bit about what to expect has both prepared and challenged him in this year’s event.- Mud and Adventure 

Many people have asked so many questions about the race and I wanted to expand on it.  Here is my version.

All I can say is,  Wow!! That was race amazing and not finishing even more amazing!!  It is probably one of the worst and best things that has happened to me. I have been racing skis, bikes, feet, anything I can find and I have never learned so  much than I did in these 30 hours of chopping wood, carrying heavy logs, being in 40 degree water and trying to outguess the organizers.

I could make this report all about the race, the events, the obstacles, the stuff carried, the hills climbed, but that is not what this race is about.  It is about learning what you can and can’t do( or what you perceive you can’t do).  How to be resourceful and to conquer the weaker part of your brain.( which I have never really done,  to the extent that this race brings you to.)

Quitting, this is something I have never really thought about until I  participated in the Death Race.  After a day and a half of rain, cold, sunshine, mud, thunderstorms, I dropped out.  When I quit, it seemed easy.  The pain would stop, I would be clean, in a nice shower and have a couple of beers.  What I didn’t know was that the race consumes you and it is more torturous after the race, than the race itself.  The next morning as I was having a cup of coffee and the next two weeks after the race, I started to ask myself a series of questions to figure out why I dropped out, or why I didn’t keep going:

Why did you quit? What do you need to do in order to keep going?  In order to take the next step what did I need to do? If I quit, how am I going to feel? Did I fail, or did I go further than I have ever been? Was I prepared for this point of the race? How would I do it differently next time?  Am I going to do it next time? Why am I doing this? Do I really want to do this? What is on the line?

Yes I was physically and mentally exhausted. I have never done an overnight race before, let alone not sleeping for 42 hours. I had chaffing like you couldn’t imagine, and I could no longer pull my axe out of the wood I was chopping, but the questions and voices in your head will beat you up about quitting, like nothing I have experienced.   It screws with your entire being.

The funny thing is that all of these questions started to go into my head after the race, they weren’t questions  that I had ever pondered before I went in.

When I go into a race like this or any other race, I expect to be on the podium,  at least the top 10. I have been in races when in have flipped my kayak in 35 degree water, dislocated my shoulder and still finished in the top 6.  It didn’t really cross my mind that I won’t be finishing and maybe I took that for granted.

Additionally In every event, race, business scenario, family life, I can be extremely resourceful and figure it out, but this time I had never experienced mental or physical fatigue like this. Physically maybe I could have made it a bit further, but emotionally I didn’t have 12 more hours in me to compete for the win or the podium.  Maybe I could have taken a nap and stayed on the course until they decided to call it, but I wanted to race and the race was out of me.

My focus in life is to do everything extremely well and extremely fast. I don’t like to not be efficient, in the lead or stalled.  And that is what this event was about.  Yes I was I still in second place when I decided to call it quits, but I still  quit.  I believe that this race is a true metaphor for life and to see if can you handle what is thrown in your direction.  As said on the Website “The adventure starts when everything goes wrong, which God will be on your side?” how will you handle that?  That is a big question!!

Yes it would be nice to win, but that is not the focus of this race or life.  In life sometimes you need to be steady and pace yourself, you will eventuyallly get there.  Also sometimes it is not all about winning, but being proud of what you did or maybe it is just toeing the line, and going into the unknown.

I don’t know what it is/was. But it was a Fucking blast and I will definitely be back next year with all my questions answered from above.  I am also going to answer all these questions in all aspects of my life when in move into a new challenge, race or task.  It is all about be prepared and not taking anything for granted!!

The physical preparation is easy, the mental and emotional preparation is what separates you. I would like to congratulate all of the finishers and you should all be extremely proud.

If you have never pushed yourself to the point of the unknown, I suggest you do!  You will find out some amazing things.




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