Meadville Tribune

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June 21, 2013

Palmiero-Winters to compete in today's Death Race

MEADVILLE — Just packing for the Death Race can mess with one’s head.

“We tried to get five pounds of hay crushed into a bag (with a vacuum seal), but it’s still giant,” said Meadville native Amy Palmiero-Winters, who will be one of the competitors at this year’s Death Race, which begins today in Pittsfield, Vt.

“Five pounds of hay is huge,” she said. “We wanted to try to fit it inside a backpack. But it’s still bigger than the backpack. So, somehow it’s going to have to go on top.”

Five pounds of hay is just one of the items that competitors must carry with them during the 50-mile, obstacle-heavy, mind-bending Death Race, which turns out to be just as sinister as the name would suggest.

Other needed items include an axe, a hand shovel, 10 feet of rope, 1 pound of grass seed, $5 in quarters, safety goggles, a life jacket and a tuxedo.

What are all these items for?

The runners don’t know. The details of the Death Race — the map of the course, the obstacles, the mental challenges, the very duration of the event (48 hours? 72 hours? More?) — is kept secret until they unfold during the competition.

In past versions of the Death Race, athletes were tasked with challenges like chopping wood; cutting bushels of onions; digging up a tree stump and then carrying it around for the rest of the race; hauling buckets of gravel to fill potholes; even memorizing the names of 10 presidents, hiking up a mountain, and then reciting those names back in order.

Many of the events serve as a back-breaking form of community service for the small town of Pittsfield.

“Usually when I go to a race I know where I have to start and where I have to finish,” Palmiero-Winters said from her current home in Hicksville, N.Y. “This one is a completely different ball game. It’s all about deceit, betrayal, about how the mind plays tricks on you when you don’t get to a specific point but you’ve been out there for so long.

“The race directors and crew, everyone out there, is all playing games in order to break the person.”

According to the Death Race website — — 90 percent of the competitors will not finish the event.

This is not your typical marathon.

Then again, Palmiero-Winters is not your typical athlete.

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