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Death Race Challenge lives up to its billing

Don Schwarz survives three-day Vermont Challenge

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To make things more interesting the participants followed a creekbed the whole way, then had to crawl under barbwire that was stretched two feet off the ground over 400 metres of the course. The heavy rain started, and it took around 45 minutes for competitors to pull themselves under the barbwire, pushing their packs ahead of them. They got to the top around 5 p.m. on Saturday night, where they were told to turn around and go back to the farm - back under the barbwire and down the creek.

Schwarz was in the top group and was back at the farm around 9 p.m., where the next task was chopping and stacking two cords of wood. Luckily, Schwarz opted for a heavy splitter, which made the job easy - though it still took five-and-a-half hours.

Once complete, competitors were told to head up a trail in the dark about three kilometres to get a bucket and then come back to the farm to fill it up with water. They then had to go back to the bucket checkpoint with the full bucket - about 20 kilograms when filled with water - without spilling more than eight centimeters off the top.

"I got smart and cut up a rain jacket and used an extra piece of climbing rope to tie it over the top of the bucket so it wouldn't spill out," said Schwarz. Was it cheating? "The one thing in this race is you don't ask questions. At the start when we were picking up rocks someone asked if we could take our packs off, and they said 'no, you leave those packs on!' But if we just started to take off our packs without saying anything it would have been OK."

Moving the bucket was hard work. Schwarz would pick it up with one hand, walk 10 steps, set it down, and pick it up with the other hand to walk another 10 steps. It took over an hour to get back to the top of the hill, where the course marshall just dumped it out. It was about 6 a.m. on Sunday.

They were at last able to ditch their logs, cutting them in half with their handsaws and chopping the pieces up with their axes, before hiking about 8 kilometres back to the farm.

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