FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) – Although she didn't finish, Army 11st Lt. Sophie Hilaire managed to live through her first Death Race in 2011. Before she deploys to Afghanistan this summer, Hilaire is going to push her mind and body to the limit again.
This year, Hilaire is taking lots of reinforcements. She will be competing with former Marine, Dr. Dave Ricciuti, who is the Performance Enhancement Specialist with the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program. Also on her team of 8 are friends Jason and Angela Emily and Matt Robinson.
"Last year's Death Race was the hardest thing I've ever endured physically, and at 27 hours, my team found our own finish line" said Hilaire. "When I woke up the next morning, I felt like rigor mortis had already set in. I'd never been so destroyed in my life! But, despite the pain in my body, the emotional pain of quitting hurt worse."
"That's why I'm going back this year," said Hilaire. "I want to know how far this body can go. At last year's race, I put up some perceived limits that I believe I will crush this time around. I respect the mental component of this race."
"But in addition to the lesson in humility, I gained invaluable insight on myself and the human spirit," she said.
Hilaire and Ricciuti recently competed in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Hilaire, who weighs about 120 pounds, ran the Honorary 14.2-mile route in 3 hours and 56 minutes, while carrying a 35-pound rucksack. Dr. Ricciuti finished the 26.2 mile run in 6 hours, one minute, also carrying a 35-pound rucksack.
Hilaire likes the physical challenge of the Death Race. She said the name appealed to her.
"That's what drew me to it," said the West Point graduate. "Nothing really draws you in like the 'Death Race.'"
Hilaire holds the women's world record for running a marathon in full battle gear. In 2009, she finished the Philadelphia Marathon in four hours, 54 seconds, carrying a quarter of her body weight.
The Spartan Death Race is June 15th in Pittsfield, Vermont.
Through their participation in the Death Race, Both Hilaire and Ricciuti are raising donations for the Wounded Warrior Project. Click on the links below if you would like to donate: