Men's Journal - - CAMP SLIPPERS - —Zack Zei­gler

IT WAS PAST MID­NIGHT, as I lugged a 45-pound sand­bag up a moun­tain, when I re­al­ized that I was in over my head. I’ve run some gnarly races in my day. But in a mo­ment of delu­sion, I’d signed up for the Spartan Death Race, a 60-hour ob­sta­cle run, the rules of which are made on the fly. Fun, right? Now, as 70 other run­ners and I scram­bled up­ward, I grasped just how un­pre­pared I was for this Su­per Bowl of masochism, this buf­fet of pain. What the hell was I try­ing to prove?

Still, I grew up be­liev­ing, stub­bornly, that quit­ting is con­ta­gious and to be avoided at all cost. So be­fore the race be­gan, I’d de­cided that they’d have to roll me away on a gur­ney be­fore I’d give up. And that was al­most the case.

At dawn, we reached the 3,000-foot peak in Ver­mont’s Green Moun­tains—then had to crawl down the other side. At the bot­tom, we hauled rock-filled buck­ets and re­peat­edly threw in and fetched sand­bags from a pond. That night, run­ning on no sleep, we cleared brush for at least three hours. I ran out of wa­ter just in time for the next chal­lenge:

3,000 burpees. By rep 300, I was run­ning on fumes. By 400, I started pass­ing out. At 500, I had mini-con­vul­sions. That’s when a medic in­ter­vened. I was de­hy­drated and bor­der­line hy­pother­mic. Af­ter 27 hours, my race was over.

On one hand, I could hold my head high, at least metaphor­i­cally, that I didn’t quit. On the other, I should have bowed out be­fore my body made me. I pushed as hard as I could and got lucky I didn’t se­ri­ously hurt my­self. When I run the DR again in 10 months (yes, I’m go­ing again), I won’t let a rookie mis­take, like not bring­ing enough wa­ter, trip me up—or I can at least reach burpee 501.

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