The Camp Every Kid Needs - CAMP SPARTAN
Skip to main content

2015 Mexico Death Race Report

This year’s Mexico Death Race was a surprise from start to finish. First thing, racers were picked up at the Angel of Independence statue in Mexico City. The 48 hopefuls were split into two buses and driven a few hours out of town.


Though most had prepared for hot and sunny, they were dropped off almost 12,000 feet up a major volcano. There they had to scramble through a field to find their bibs before being given a frozen fish to carry for the rest of the race (based on the legend that Aztec ruler Moctezuma had runners bring him fresh fish daily from the ocean hundreds of miles away) and, in a huge departure from tradition, their skull.


The organizers had been pondering how it is that a cheap plastic skull can drive people so far past their normal breaking point so, as an experiment, we decided to award the skulls ahead of time and see how this affected people’s performances and perceptions. With all this precious cargo safely stowed, they then set out on a fast paced ascent, climbing another 3,000 feet in only seven kilometers! A handful of racers dropped almost immediately as the extreme elevation made them terribly nauseous.


Those who made it to the top of this trip then turned and headed down the volcano in the darkness, covering another 25 km before the sun rose, including the last couple miles dragging massive logs through an Arroyo and a river. As they arrived at camp (not without a couple more racers dropping out after being injured by falling rocks) they found all that all but 10 had been eliminated for missing a time hack and the rest had to turn in their bibs. When it was pointed out that the surviving group had gained a huge advantage being the only ones not directed into the river on the descent, they were given a choice to be the only ones still racing or to also turn in their bibs and to join the others in a penalty to earn them all back together. The group of ten voted, almost unanimously, to remove their bibs to give the rest a chance to continue.


Joe then assigned them a collective half million jumping jacks and got them started before heading for a nap. With the sun rising over the volcano behind them, the group completed a couple hundred thousand burpees before being told it was time to retrieve their bibs. Many had figured out that we had sunk them in an abandoned pool that had become a stinking, slimy pond. That knowledge did not make it any easier to wade in, with someone finding a dead mouse floating almost immediately. As the racers found their bibs they were allowed to start the individual racing. Interestingly,


Taylor Cuevas was the very last one out of the pool, waiting to ensure that everyone else had found theirs, especially a few racers who were unable to swim. The next ten hours was a whirlwind of brutal work. Low crawls in a concrete ditch, running through rugged canyons, rock climbing a waterfall, carrrying massive logs a mile uphill and then firing rifles at small targets and swimming more laps of the horrible pond for anything less than 3 bullseyes, trudging up the river carrying ridiculously heavy bags of chopped wood (more than body weight for some of the smaller females) and scaling a climbing wall in an abandoned three story tower.


The most visceral carnage happened at Mark Jones’ “Sumner Camp” where racers had to spin around a swinging contraption 250 times (sets of 25, 50, 75 and 100) and complete just as many burpees, somersaults, log flips and the like. Over several hours, most racers were sick to their stomachs and all were pushed to their absolute breaking point. Several previous DR finishers were unable to complete the tasks before the 6pm hard cutoff, which was announced midafternoon. Impressively, however, very few stopped – even once official finisher status was out of reach – and ground it out right to the end.


The Dirty Dozen who did complete everything in time finished with a loop that started with a rappel down the waterfall, a run through the canyon, a scramble up the bank and a low crawl the opposite direction in the concrete ditch, before crossing a suspension bridge and heading back to camp. There they had to cook their fish over the fire and eat a bite before being declared an official finisher. Taylor Cuevas, who had stayed in the pool and started dead last, had worked his way to the front of the pack and was crowned champion. Ultimately, 8 men and 4 women earned the distinction of “official finisher” in this brutal 27 hour “sprint”.


submitted by Johnny Waite