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Stafford native competing in ‘death race’


Some athletes run 5K races to keep in shape. Others push themselves to finish a 26.2-mile marathon.

And then there’s Adam Orton, a Stafford County native serving in the Air Force and stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.

This weekend, Orton will test his mental and physical endurance in the “Spartan Death Race,” held June 15-17 in Pittsfield, Vt.

The event’s website describes the race as “the ultimate challenge” and says 90 percent of competitors won’t complete the race.

“My goal is to see how far I can possibly go,” Orton said.

Unlike in traditional races, where participants know in advance how far they’ll run, competitors in the Spartan Death Race don’t know just what they’re getting into.

Race organizers are deliberately vague about the details of the race. Competitors may be asked to chop wood, catch fish, memorize a phrase or recite history at stations along the racing route — all while sleep-deprived.

The blend of mental toughness, skills and athletic abilities competitors need levels the playing field between all kinds of athletes, Orton said. He likens the challenge to his experience in Air Force basic training.

“It’s very high intensity,” Orton said. “It puts everyone in the same place, and they’re all just trying to get through it.”

Without knowing what specific physical challenges to train for, Orton has been preparing by reading up on last year’s race obstacles. He has been rising at 4 a.m. to begin his intense training regimen.

“I chop wood for four or five hours straight nonstop,” he said. “I run very long distances with weights.”

The race is unorthodox, but Orton says it’s great way to reach the next level of fitness.

“It can only better me in my job,” Orton said. “I know just how far I can push myself.”

To learn more about the race, visit Learn how Orton did in an upcoming story.

Sean McCollum is a freelance writer.