Pittsfield, where?

A tiny village in central Vermont may well be dubbed "Endurance USA."

It's little known Pittsfield, not too far from Killington, where at 5 a.m. on June 13 runners will assemble to tackle the 2009 Pittsfield Peaks Death Division Race, 10 miles of obstacles that must be faced, tackled and completed in order to continue in the race.

This is the third year of the event.

Designed to be the toughest race in the world, it was won by Chris Mitchell of Boston in 2008.

The 24-hour obstacle course run includes, among other tasks, splitting wood, hiking through a river, chiseling marble and even mucking out nearby sheep stalls. Described as very challenging mentally and physically, race organizers say it's the mental part that gets competitors to the finish. In 2008 out of 50, eight ran the whole course.

Joe Desena, who designed the race, says it's "Tougher than the Tour de France in the sense that there's no end in sight. You don't know how long it goes for; we don't give you a starting point. The goal is to get everybody to quit."

A prize of $1,000 goes to the first five people who finish in less than 24 hours.

In preparation, from May 1-3 there will be a training called Death Camp for serious athletes who want to be pushed to their mental and physical limits and who don't quit. Designed for the competitor who is extremely fit, the camp includes a minimum of 30 hours of extremely painful and grueling training.

The winners from the previous two years of a Death Race competition will be on hand to speak and give advice on how to go beyond what you can do.

The camp price including lodging and a Saturday night dinner plus events and lectures is $200.

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