Today: Jun 18, 2024

SCSU Alum takes on ‘The Death Race’

Photo Courtesy | Michael Albarella PETE PAGUAGASports Editor

If The Death Race’s website,, is any indication of what The Death Race entails, Southern graduate Michael Albarella is in for a real treat when he competes in The Death Race on June 15 next year.

“No one has died yet,” said Albarella, “there have been a few injuries and there is an ambulance on the scene.”

Albarella graduated from Southern in 2007 with a degree in communications. He is from North Branford and went to North Branford High School. After college he moved down to Florida, was recently married and is now living back in Connecticut.

The Death Race is the highest and most difficult of the Spartan Challenges.  It is described as an endurance race that has multiple challenges that can be physical and mental, along with mud runs, obstacles and trail racing.

Andy Weinberg and Joe Desena, both who are racing legends themselves, host the race in Pittsfield, Vt. Applicants have to convince both Weinberg and Desena that they should be allowed to race.

Roughly 200 applicants are selected to race, though they choose over 200 knowing some will drop out before the race begins, said Albarella.

This year’s race is on June “15th-ish,” said Albarella.

“You don’t know anything, none of the tasks or when it’s starting,” said Albarella.

Photo Courtesy | Michael Albarella The directors don’t tell the participants anything.  Albarella said that last year, as a volunteer, Weinberg and Desena called the participants into a church and had them dress in their full equipment.  They then had the athletes lift over 100,000 pounds in an assortment of weights before they started the race.

When Albarella moved to Florida, he started to run and work out; he then started doing 5k races, then triathlons and then marathons.  Then he caught wind of the Spartan Races and was hooked right away.

“It was unlike anything I had ever seen,” said Albarella, “I became obsessed.”

From then on Albarella began training and getting involved with the Death Race—he volunteered at last year’s race.

He also trained by doing smaller races.  He did an eight-mile race and carried a car tire the whole time while doing so. Running and swimming were just a few of the aspects of that event that Albarella, who stands at 5’5 and weighs a little over 140 pounds, had to do with the tire.

This year Albarella applied right away to join this year’s race and was the seventh applicant to be accepted.

“They had heard about the tire story,” said Albarella.

The Death Race also never uses the same tasks, always keeping the participants on their toes, so Albarella said that you have to try and stay comfortable.

“The main thing is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Albarella.

To be able to finish The Death Race, not only do you need to be mentally strong but also you need to have a good supporting group.  Each racer gets to have group a volunteers that stay at the base camp and can give them new clothes and water when they pass through the base camp going towards another task.

“My wife is a registered dietitian. It is a huge advantage for me,” said Albarella, “I also am a very laid back person, which is also a huge advantage for me.”

Albarella’s goal is to finish the race, just like every other participant, but Albarella is going to give The Death Race his all and that includes his body.

“I am going to go until I cannot physically move anymore.”

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