Author and coach Travis Macy will be running in the Peak Ultra 50 this year. He will be giving a free talk to help racers get their heads ready for the 2015 Ultra, whatever distance they run. His talk will include a quick overview of nutrition, hydration, gear, pacing, and mindset for Peak Ultra; he’ll then open up to questions about this event, competing around the world, his new book, and anything else that’s on your mind!
Travis Macy is a speaker, author, coach, and professional endurance athlete. He is the author of The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life, and he holds the record for Leadman, an epic endurance event consisting of a trail running marathon, 50-mile mountain bike race, Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, 10k road run, and Leadville 100 Run, all above 10,200′ in the Rocky Mountains. Travis lives with his wife and two young children in the mountains around Evergreen, Colorado.
Learn more about running the Peak Ultra with 15 mile to 500 mile options.
Only 4 racers have completed the 500 mile distance at the Peak Ultra. One of them is Kale “Cleetus” Poland who finished in 9 days. Here are his memories of the event.
After I take the turn from VT-107 to 100, I make a conscious effort to not put the pedal to the floor for the final 13 miles on the way to Pittsfield.
Don’t get me wrong- the small, charming mountains rising up from the river along that road are worthy of gawking at length… but the anticipation of what I am headed to far exceeds my willingness to rubberneck.
The mystique surrounding the trails at Peak is well-known amongst those who make the annual pilgrimage there.
There is an energy within that forest that cannot be denied. I’d been there to witness it multiple times within the past 5 years, but hadn’t truly felt the extent of it on my own until last year, at the Peak 500.
We began on a Thursday afternoon in late May.
Incessant rain dominated our first few days on the trail. We were muddy, constantly wet, and tired. The forest seemed dark and imposing- perhaps compounded by the daunting task that lay ahead.
I believe the sun finally made an appearance on day 3. New England forests in general are very dynamic during this time of year, as everything begins to come back to life after a long winter. This was especially so here on Joe’s Mountain. The flora changed from deep green to bright and vibrant…growing right before our eyes. The grass and ferns, not much taller than ankle-height at the beginning, grew to knee height. Over the final few days, I became almost attached to certain parts of the trail that I’d run or walked by over 40 times, having literally watched them grow over a week and half. A haunting forest suddenly became inviting, even during the final night when things were at their toughest.
A few days after finishing, I chatted with fellow finisher Nick Bautista. We both expressed feelings of difficulty in leaving the trail and assimilating back to the “real” world. After knowing the whereabouts and condition of seemingly every root, rock, and plant, it is very hard to not know how the trail is doing. I know how silly this probably sounds, but when the only thing you have with you are your thoughts, suffering, and nature around you, the attachment becomes very real.
Peak Races are polarizing, but in a good way. You will have some of your worst moments on these trails. There is a good chance you will end up at rock bottom, and you just may stay there for a long, long while….but never forever. The collective energy of this place and the people around it will raise you up.
You will learn, adapt, and then have some of your best moments here- and while those good and bad moments may not last forever, the memories will.
And those memories will change you.
Kale “Cleetus” Poland
Find out more about the Peak Ultra, register now for distances from 500 to 15.
I have 3 DNF’s at the PEAK 500
and they are my proudest accomplishments as an ultra runner.
It is quite possible that many of you will, like I did, fall in love with
this mountain and these trails and PEAK will become your bliss. I can
promise that each of you that decide to take on the challenge of PEAK,
regardless of the distance, will find a part of yourself that you never
knew existed. These are no ordinary trails….you will know what I
speak of when you pass through the labyrinth and the day becomes
evening. You are on a mountain that holds memories. A mountain that
has silently witnessed amazing feats from ordinary people. What will
you take away from your PEAK experience? I can assure you that you will
be challenged. You will suffer moments of doubt, maybe even fear, but
whether or not you cross that finish line in the time given or with the
number of loops expected you will have accomplished something great.
I have always said PEAK is about the extra loop. As in life it is about
challenging yourself to take that extra step when you body says “I am
done”. It is not for a medal or your name listed as a finisher it is
really about finding your inner reserve, tapping into it, and pushing
yourself farther than you ever thought possible.
Welcome to the PEAK family…
Are interested in our races? We’ve developed a test to determine if you have what it takes to succeed – not just in races but in life. Rate yourself from 1 to 10 on each these 6 questions. 1 means almost never, 10 means always. Then check our recommendations below.
1. Do you think like a winner, with the confidence that you can achieve your goal no matter the obstacles?
2. Do you learn from your mistakes? When something doesn’t go the way you expect can you adapt and keep moving forward?
3. Do you have the energy you need to get through your to do list every day? Do you get out of bed ready to face the day, no snooze button, and carry that energy all day?
4. Do you accept sole responsibility for every choice you make, never blaming others? When a problem arises do you focus on what you control?
5. Do you cultivate your creativity and trust it to help you solve problems? Do you look beyond tried and true solutions for new solutions?
6. Are you persistent?
How did you do? Calculate your total score then click the score below to see what we recommend for you.
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”.
This was a Winter Death Race for the ages. While over 100 had registered, a blast of savage weather kept all but the hardiest at home with only 30 actually showing up to toe the start line.
The race began Friday evening, immediately following the 9pm pre-race meeting. Most competitors had arrived prepared for this likelihood, but one rookie showed up in sweat pants and tennis shoes and had to endure the first several hours of -30℉ drastically underdressed before his parents could fetch the rest of his gear. The first order of business, after 50 fully loaded burpees, was to drag enormous logs up the mountain, breaking new trail in the deep snow the whole way. Working in three teams, they took a few hours to make the first trip and were rewarded with a second one – this time carrying buckets full of logs as well.
Upon arriving at the summit, racers were released to sprint to the bottom and begin racing in earnest. This continued full-tilt until Sunday morning, with the racers enduring multiple trips to the summit, carrying various loads, building a mountainside cabin, and standing, barefoot on a cold floor, blindfolded and earmuffed while required to count off one hour in their head with a penalty for time over or under. Sunday morning, as the state closed the highways due to severe freezing rain, racers were regrouped and brought upstairs in the barn for a surprise dance lesson from a 9 yr old neighbor. For hours they were tortured with “Uptown Funk” and accompanying choreography.
After repeatedly failing their group recital, with penalties including 50 times rolling down a snowy hill, they were finally allowed to advance. Next they worked together to stack a neighbor’s wood and clear ice from her driveway, then hiked over the mountain and waded through the river to chip out a frozen pile of stones at the General Store and fill the excavated foundation. Just before dark, all remaining racers (about half had dropped by now) used their ropes to make themselves Swiss Seats and then all clipped to a 100′ rope before striding together into the frigid river to walk the mile and a half upstream to Riverside. There they were made to sit armpits deep in the rushing water for a ten minute preview of what was to come. Chilled to the bone, the racers were then given only a few minutes to get changed and be upstairs for a closing meeting.
They battled for space in the basement but all managed to make it upstairs in time. They were congratulated on finishing the prescribed tasks, but told that they still had their penalties to complete. Based on a formula that included their score on a quiz, their proficiency carrying buckets of water, how many times they’d made it up the mountain Saturday night and how close they were to the hour of forced meditation, each racer was assigned up to one hour submersion in the river, up to 4,235 burpees and several trips up and down the mountain. Working well into Monday morning, now in a significant snowstorm, only 9 racers were able to complete their penalties before the 6am cut off. Drew Jett led the way, with the rest joining him one at a time in the cabin atop Joe’s mountain. Shortly after 7am, approximately 58 hours after the start, the nine skulls were presented as the sun rose.
A full body workout that works all aspects of the body. You can make this as hard as you want with doing multiple sets of this. After all, the peak races are not easy so should your workout be easy? Good Luck!
Are you ready to push yourself beyond your limits? This weeks WOD will mentally drain you but will help get you ready for the next death race.
Peak Death Race WOD #26
Spartan Warm Up
35 sets of 10-50 reps of each of the following exercises:
Hanging Leg Raises
Sandbag clean and press.
Kettlebell Swings (w/sandbag)
Sandbag Squats, alternating shoulders
(skip last exercise) Spartan Cool Down