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A True Strength Runner Preparing for the Death Race

This article was guest written by VPX Team Xtreme athlete and true Strength Runner, Brandon Seale. Brandon is currently training for the Summer Death Race held in Pittsfield Vermont.

Spartan Death Race

Making the decision to sign up for the Spartan Death Race has been on my mind for a few years, ever since I started the Spartan race series in 2011. People frequently ask what motivates me to participate in events like the Death Race, often questioning my sanity in the process. Personally, I am aware that many do not understand why the Death Race is something I want to do, but my hope is that by telling my story, others will begin to understand the Death Race is more than just an event, it is the next step in a lifelong passion to challenge myself to the furthest extreme. .

In 2011, I completed my first Spartan race; winning a free entry into another race in Texas for placing top ten in my age group amongst competitors.  At that point in my life, I was conditioned from doing Jiu Jitsu, but I was unsure about where my future fitness goals were going to take me. I no longer had an interest in Jiu Jitsu, mainly because of I felt the sport had become too commercialized in my area, and the values I had once admired.  I noticed I was drawn to the outdoors which I was not getting while in the Jiu Jitsu gym, so I ran on days that I did not grapple. This led me to various road races and eventually to Spartan Race. When I ran my first Spartan race, I knew right away that obstacle course racing was about to take off; I began training for more.

 In 2012 I went after the Spartan trifecta (in one year, completing one of each race in the Spartan Series; 5+ miles, 8-10 miles, and 13+ miles). I successfully completed the Trifecta with ease. I had ramped up my training and felt as if I was in shape for more; after hearing about the Spartan race’s Ultra Beast I began to think about what direction I wanted to go with my training. I needed to decide at this point if I wanted to focus on placing high at the Spartan Sprint race or   focus on the longer endurance beasts and ultra-beast as well as what else I could get my hands on. It was at this point I knew I was going to keep going with the endurance event; the next step I took was looking up the Death Race. The Death Race was the ultimate endurance challenge; a 48 hour+ event without having the advantage of knowing what would be coming next. I knew the dedication that was needed for an event like this; it would be no easy task, and training meant 7days a week not leaving room for much else in my life. Training also meant potential injuries, changing my diet and nutrition, and pushing myself to extremes I had never pushed to before. I decided to focus and train for endurance event, keeping my eyes on the Death Race as the ultimate challenge. The aim was to complete the Death Race in the year I turned 30, which would be in 2015.

During 2013, Spartan race had exploded and I found myself in the middle of a sport that was becoming much bigger than I ever thought; OCR was taking off, only it was gaining popularity to levels I had not envisioned. I started my training for the Ultra Beast for 2013 which included signing up for literally any event I could, even doubling up Spartan races in the same weekend at almost every race I attended. I started to become known amongst my competitors and OCR fans, and greatly enjoyed the camaraderie that formed amongst the elite racers. In 2013, I received  an athletic sponsorship with VPX Team Extreme, and knew I was headed in the right direction. I completed many events to stay primed and diversify my training such as 50ks, The Suck (24 hour overnight endurance challenge), Marathons and various OCRS; I felt ready for The Ultra Beast.  It was at this point, during the summer of 2013, I felt confident and signed up for the Death Race 2014. I registered ahead of schedule because I knew my progress had far exceeded where I felt I needed to be; I would be ready at age 29.

I enjoy running; you probably wouldn’t guess that by initially looking at my build. I’m about 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, with a primarily muscular frame produced from years of strength training and conditioning. I take pride in my ability to master various Olympic lifts with increased weight over last few years. Recognizing my size and strength coupled with my passion for running, endurance events seemed like a natural fit. I have competed in several endurance events including the SUCK, a 14 hour challenge consisting of rucking over 200 pounds. Although if you ask me, what gives me the edge over my competition during endurance events, I would have to say it’s my effort to remain diligent in both strength training and long distance running.

Preparing for the unknown is what has attributed to a lot of my success in endurance events. Not knowing exactly what to prepare for in an endurance event, means you must prepare for anything and everything; in that aspect training variation is a necessity. I typically implement various running workouts along with my strength training. I use speed work outs, mixed with moderate to heavy carrying (such as a sand bag carry or rucking) and body weight calisthenics/exercises. It is also important not to forget the long distance running days for fortitude. I often find the long run days attribute to mental determination during events, and often allows me to push through difficult or painful situations.

This year will bring many new challenges for me. In 2014, I am doing several events including a 50 miler, Lost Tribe Expedition, The Suck and The Spartan Death Race. With the countless hours I have worked to train by body to endure extreme races, I have no fear entering into these challenges ready to compete and finish. So to answer the question why would someone sign up for something like this? Well my answer is simple; I questioned my sanity and called me crazy for signing up for the Death Race, the only thing crazy to me would have been if I had given up on myself all those years ago when I started my journey in endurance events. I am not crazy, I just never gave up; nor will I when I get there.