Columbia resident takes on Death Race

Columbia resident takes on Death Race

My name is Amie Meyer. I am a Columbia resident and graduate of USC, but also a local extreme endurance and OCR athlete undertaking a great challenge this year by way of the Spartan/Peak Death Races (www.youmaydie.com). I will be participating in the following events, considered to be some of the hardest events in the world. My goal is to complete all four of these challenges, and to place amongst the top women.

  • Winter Death Race, Pittsfield, VT – January 31-February 2
  • Traveling Death Race, Mexico City, Mexico – February 22-24
  • Summer Death Race – Pittsfield, VT – June 27-30
  • Team Death Race – Pittsfield, VT – Sept. 19-2

I currently own a fitness business, AIM Fitness & Nutrition, in Irmo, SC and partner in a venture called Renegade Athletics. Formerly, I was a middle school German and Science teacher, as well as a coach (track & field, cross country) for Timmerman private school. Aside from being a wife and the mother of two elementary age children, my passion lies in the area of fitness, health, and of course pushing myself to the limits in races. I have been competing in OCR (obstacle course racing) for several years, and I find it to be a great way to challenge the entire body while having a great time. I have done Spartans, Tough Mudders, and various other OCR. I use these as training, to know where I stand among other athletes, and also to help others. In addition I entered the world of ultra marathons in the past several months as a way to train for the endurance I would need in the upcoming death races.

I have been called crazy and asked what it is that drives me to want to be part of these events. I had a very hard childhood, and I had to overcome many hardships in order to ensure I would not continue in the environment in which I was living. This is no different than so many others, but it is why many people seek challenges that are difficult, with the drive to overcome them. It is important to me to show my children “impossible” is a word that does not apply to those that set out to change the world or accomplish great things. Women can be involved wives and mothers, but still set out to accomplish their goals and dreams. But, part of it is the thrill of the unknown, the challenge in the mental and physical capacity that really draws the crazies and extremists (aka, me) to sign up for these races, which are considered by most, the hardest in the world. It is this drive that makes me feel I am never really prepared, and must always seek to be better, knowing failure is a possibility, but that success is built over time. It is that draw that makes me want to do these in the first place.

Much of my time is spent training for these events, including moving from the focus of marathons and road races to ultra marathons. I completed my first ultra marathon event in September of 2013, after breaking my wrist in Germany and found I could no longer compete in the Ironman 70.3 in Augusta. It was this event that really convinced me that I was ready to attempt more than just one of the four death races this year. I had not trained for such an event, but went on to run it the same weekend. It was much more difficult than I had imagined and I found that at mile 13, I was spent and ready to lie down and rest. However, mental strength is a must for the challenges I will face, and I kept going, all the while learning valuable lessons about nutrition and my body. The race was a total of 36 miles, and we were on goal for a 8 hour 30 minute finish, when we found a fallen runner. I thankfully used training I received in the army as a medic to help save a life, and then after crouching in the cold and rain for two hours, went on to complete the race. It was this moment that I felt I was ready to train and my mind was in the right place. I was strong enough to finish, but also willing to put the need of another before my wants. Moments like this test the type of athlete you are and if you are capable of staying collected under pressure and yet still be able to move past that moment when the time comes.

Since then, I have run five ultra marathons varying in distances. I have done training runs that equal hundreds of miles in total. It took this to see where my weakest moments would occur and how to push myself through these moments of failure or doubt. However, endurance is not the only training needed to hope to finish the Death Races. My training consists of pushing my body to acclimate to extremely cold water and temperatures, making fire, climbing, chopping and sawing down trees (moving them alone), splitting wood, rucking half my body weight or more, strength exercises (burpees, push ups, sit ups, air squats, planking, etc), hiking, sleep deprivation, nutrition tests, gear tests, and mental exercises (puzzles, problem solving, logic, etc). All of this training done, and there are still no guarantees that I will finish this race in which 9-10% of competitors complete. However, I not give up. I have determination, and not finishing is not an option for me.

The first of the events, the Winter Death Race, is the considered the most difficult of the four, because the cold is so brutal that without proper gear the chances of hypothermia are definite. For the Past 15 years, I have shopped at Backpacker for my adventure needs, and as a local business owner, I more than believe in supporting other local small business. I reached out to them, because in Columbia, there is no other business I can trust to have the knowledge to fully outfit me for this type of event. There is so much I do not know about severe cold and the gear necessary to make sure I am protected from the elements. Courtney and her staff took me under their wings and not only helped me choose the proper gear, but also made sure I knew the times to use the gear and in what layers. They made sure that I would be both warm, but also able to move and complete the difficult tasks ahead of me without issue of what I like to call the “Randy” (from the Christmas Story) snowsuit effect. The Backpacker went beyond supporting me as a customer, but treated me with support and encouragement like family. In part, my success in the first of the four death races will be partly due to their ability to prepare me for the climate, as well as giving me the necessary tips for winter survival.

About the Author

Amie Meyer

Amie Meyer

I currently own a fitness business, AIM Fitness & Nutrition, in Irmo, SC and partner in a venture called Renegade Athletics. Formerly, I was a middle school German and Science teacher, as well as a coach (track & field, cross country) for Timmerman private school. Aside from being a wife and the mother of two elementary age children, my passion lies in the area of fitness, health, and of course pushing myself to the limits in races. I have been competing in OCR (obstacle course racing) for several years, and I find it to be a great way to challenge the entire body while having a great time. I have done Spartans, Tough Mudders, and various other OCR. I use these as training, to know where I stand among other athletes, and also to help others. In addition I entered the world of ultra marathons in the past several months as a way to train for the endurance I would need in the upcoming death races.

Check out my web site.

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