Joe De Sena: Death Race Status Uncertain

Joe De Sena says the Death Race isn't necessarily dead yet, but he might have another event in mind.

Will the Death Race continue? Or will another event emerge?

Amid rumors swirling around that the grueling multi-day Death Race might not happen next year, event co-founder Joe De Sena admitted on July 3 that he’s not sure what will happen with it.

De Sena co-founded the Death Race in 2005 with Andy Weinberg with the intent of creating an excruciating multi-day physical and psychological test that included numerous challenges, obstacles and endurance activities. The event’s mantra has been, “Every man dies, but not every man lives” and year-in and year-out it has been absolutely grueling, including everything from 2,500 burpees at a time, crawling through mud under barbed wire, wading down a raging river for 2 miles, memorizing the chronological order of U.S. presidents or trying to precisely recreate a Lego structure piece by piece.

Although the primary Death Race event has been held annually since 2007 in Vermont, additional Death Race events have been held in the winter and in Mexico in the past several years. The most recent edition of the Death Race took place June 28-29 in New York City and Pittsfield, Vt. There were 64 total finishers this year—55 men and nine women.

De Sena says the event might have run its course, despite the it just now getting mainstream media attention.

“There’s a chance I want to take the approach of just killing the Death Race,” says De Sena, 45, a former Wall Street trader who is the CEO of the successful Spartan Race series. “It sounds crazy, because it’s my baby. It’s not done yet, but there might be something else.”

De Sena, who co-founded the Spartan Race obstacle course racing series with Weinberg and several other people in 2001, said he’s not sure what will happen next year, despite other reports that have said the Death Race is definitely not happening next year and another suggesting it would happen with Weinberg but without De Sena.

De Sena says he doubts the Death Race would happen with Weinberg and without him, but he also hints that he has other ideas brewing. De Sena has competed in numerous adventure races and obstacle races, as well as dozens of Ironman triathlons.

“One thing is for sure, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 11 years old and that’s not going away,” he says. “I always try to do the hard thing—whether that’s take a cold shower or run a business that everybody says won’t work or swim in the ocean where I’m afraid of sharks. I’m always trying to do the thing I don’t want to do. The last thing I want to do is give up on this race. But that’s making me think that it’s the right thing. Andy completely disagrees, which most people do, but when I get clarity on this thought, everybody is going to agree with me.”

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