posted 2012-05-12 22:35:43

Marine Sgt., Hunter Freshman Enters Death Race

Daniel Egbert prepares to conquer the impossible

Arthur Kapetanakis

Sports Editor

If this article did not get published, former Marine sergeant and Hunter freshman Daniel Egbert would be facing some serious consequences. The Suffolk County native would have had to swim 12 miles before participating in a 60-mile, 60 hour long “race” while carrying 60 pounds on his back the whole time. Lucky for him, that is not the case. He will not have to do the 12-mile swim.

But he is still going to be in the race, and he can’t wait to get started. And time is ticking down, as the race is slated for an 8 a.m. start on June 15 in Pittsfield, Vermont.

Egbert, 25, signed up for the Spartan Death Race in January of 2012 after returning from Afghanistan in his fourth deployment with the United Stated Marines. After seven years in the Marines, Egbert and his friend and fellow Marine, Sgt. Mark Hutchinson discovered this extreme test of endurance and immediately signed up.

After the intense and adrenaline-filled years in the marines, the pair figured this would be a perfect way to recapture some of those feelings.

“It will give us the adrenaline rush, but without getting shot at,” he said.

Competitors in the Death Race are given precious little information about the race itself, and are instead forced to rely on stories and YouTube videos from past years. The race is made up of a series of tasks that, based on the past, could range from carrying heavy stones for miles, crawling long distances under barbed wire, chopping wood for two hours straight, and even memorizing a list of U.S. Presidents and then running one mile up a hill and reciting the list back in order. And all of this is without any sleep for the duration of the race.

Egbert was part of the infantry in the Marines, where he was a ground fighter. He believes that his experience in the military will serve him well in the race.

“We all developed so much mental toughness and constantly pushed ourselves to the extreme,” he said. “In the Marines, your legs are your vehicles. It built an incredible tenacious mentality.” One of the most challenging aspects

of the race is the fact that none of the competitors know where the finish line is. They simply must keep completing task after task until the officials say that the race is over.

“The worst part is not knowing where the end is,” Egbert said. “It completely changes your strategy.” Competitors will find it very difficult to pace themselves when they don’t know how much longer there is to go. It is very hard to keep fighting when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the 2011 race, only 6 out of 250 entrants completed the race before the designated curfew. The race was scheduled to start at noon, but the participants received phone calls at 3 a.m. ordering them to the start line in the middle of the night. Bracing for anything, Egbert is planning to get to the start line early and camp out ahead of the 8 a.m. start time.

As part of his training, he has been doing everything possible to work out all the different parts of his body. He began training in January, doing every drill imaginable to try and prepare himself for the seemingly impossible task ahead of him. He has even learned how to start a fire in the rain after hearing that that was one of the tasks in the race in the past.

He has also competed in some other similar but far less grueling races as part of his training regimen. He ran in the Warrior Dash and the Goruck, both challenging obstacle-filled races, but the Death Race is an entirely different animal.

Egbert started attending Hunter this year after finishing his time in the military. He chose Hunter because of its strong liberal arts academics and film department. As a film major, he wants to become a director. After college, he plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue that dream.

He has a leg up on most freshman film majors, having already appeared in several films, Most notably, he played a Marine in the recent Angelina Jolie film, Salt, for which he spent 11 days on set. Egbert is also an avid hockey player, and trains in Kung Fu and Kempo.

Every second of the physical and mental training from throughout his life will be put to the test in about a month’s time. He has vowed to increase his cardio workouts and to stop drinking alcohol from now until the big day.

There is no prize for completing or winning the race but glory. For Egbert, that is more than enough motivation.