Budapestians Take On U.S. Death Race

  • 19 Jun 2014 10:50 AM
Budapestians Take On U.S. Death Race
On the 27th June, Daniel Kaali and Brody House co-founder William Clothier head to the Vermont mountains, Pittsfield, USA for an endurance event described by the organisers and founders as, "like no other event on earth." Held annually since 2005 in the small town of Pittsfield, VT, the 2014 Death Race is scheduled to begin next Friday with just 300 elite athletes given the chance to test their mental and physical prowess. Last year, only 10% of the registered participants were still standing when the event ended after nearly 70 non-stop hours.

The obstacle and challenge-driven race requires competitors to complete numerous grueling mental and physical challenges over a course that runs through the Vermont forests.

During the Death Race, competitors may be asked to chop wood for hours; complete long mountainous hikes with rocks and weighted packs or after 24-hours of racing, memorize a list or objects or names, hike to the top of a mountain and recite them back in order — miss a word and you get to do it again… and again… and again.

Unlike other endurance races that offer maybe a map, directions or set tasks, Death Racers have no idea what to expect next as the course map and list of challenges are kept secret. This provides competitors with one of their biggest challenges as the length of the race can range from 48-72 hours. For an endurance athlete, not knowing where the light is at the end of the tunnel can be sheer torture.

“Just like life, the Death Race is designed to push and aggravate people to such a point that even the most stoic eventually fail,” said Joe De Sena, co-Founder of the Death Race and the Reebok Spartan Race Founder.

Daniel Kaali has been building up an impressive history of endurance eventing - since last year’s Death Race he has finished the 100km Kinizsi trail in under 15 hours, came 17th in the World’s Toughest Mudder, 2nd in the Mexico Death Race and 7th in the grueling 212km Ultrabalaton. went to interview Daniel and William ahead of this extraordinary competition to find out more and get an insight into what might motivate someone to enter such a race.

XpatLoop: Daniel, last year was your first Death Race, what made you decide to enter it again?

Daniel: last year, After 60 hrs I was unable to complete the race after 'trench foot' made even walking too painful. That was the race I learnt the importance of foot care and what the pain of trench foot is really all about! Once back in front of a computer I immediately entered for the 2014 race only to find out that entry required finding a pair to run the race with. I dropped a line to Will and asked him if he was up for it!

XpatLoop: Will, how did Daniel persuade you to join him in such a mad adventure?

Will: It was one of those emails it was difficult to say no to. All logic pointed to declining such an invitation, but sometimes we take ourselves down roads that defies logic — I guess that's the adventurous spirit in me. Up until that point I never had any experience of endurance events, I've done more intensive sports such as rugby or cross country skiing, so I've been working at increasing my endurance running. It is a different kind of training and mind set.

XpatLoop: Daniel, what do you think is key to success in these type of races and why did you ask Will to join?

Daniel: All the endurance events I enter have different challenges. Overall you have to be able to run for many hours and cover very long distances. But its not just running, the events test all aspects of your fitness and strength. Most endurance events last up to 24hrs of non-stop activity. With the Death Race it can be much longer. The uncertainty of tasks, distances and even understanding your progress forms the core psychological battle. Success needs overall physical and mental fitness after days of no sleep. As for asking Will, he was the first person that sprung to mind that I thought might be mad enough to accept such a challenge. Once he registered, I immediately reassured him what a terrible decision he had just made…

XpatLoop: Will, are there any aspects of the race you are apprehensive about?

Will: The whole thing is quite a daunting challenge and Daniel has more experience and is better prepared for these endurance events than me. My biggest concern is slowing Daniel down or an injury that prevents us from continuing. It would almost be easier to be solo, which could be a reason why they have made entry in pairs a requirement this year, or it could be just a game and we will be spilt up from the start. But whatever the result, it has been an enlightening and educational experience in preparing myself for the race among a demanding work life. I think it is important to have physical challenges at every stage of our lives and this is certainly new territory for me.

XpatLoop: How have you both been preparing for the race and how do you fit training in around your busy work schedule?

Daniel: I've been running long distance races whenever I get the opportunity between my Oxford graduate studies, work at the Kaali Institute in Budapest and some entrepreneurial projects that take me at short notice all over the world. The key is to fit something in whenever you can, be it early in the morning or very late at night.

Will: Indeed, the Brody House Group keeps me busy for most waking hours. That said the Brody House story has many parallels with these unpredictable adventurous physical challenges. I fit training in when I can which might sometimes be early in the morning before the building teams arrive or late at night after an event at Brody Studios. I haven't always found the time I wanted either on account of injuries or work priorities. No doubt completing this race will require tapping the deepest reserves of will power and energy - I know Team Brody will be with us in spirit and I wouldn't be surprised if our aged aunts Wilma and Dottie pop out of the woods at some point to revive our flagging spirits if we need it...

XpatLoop: Thank you for your time guys and good luck!

Click here for more about the Death Race

About William Clothier

About Daniel Kaali

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