Soldier's pursuit to master death
January 27, 2014
"Spartans believed while on this earth they should achieve one moment of excellence and understand they might die trying."
Such is the rallying cry for Spartans everywhere who dare to take on the race filled with fire gauntlets and barbed wire-covered mud pits. At 45 miles, the aptly named 'Death Race' is the longest of the Spartan Race series, understated as an "international obstacle course series."
Leave it to a Soldier to come back for more. Staff Sgt. Camille Adams is a computer analyst in the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade and female champion of the 2013 Summer Death Race in Vermont. This year, she will compete again.
Race organizers keep the obstacles a secret, so she has to be ready for anything. Her boyfriend, Pfc. Thomas McCue, a clerk in the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion's orderly room, occasionally trains with her.
"It's really intense," he said. "Cam's got a lot of drive, and it shows when it comes to her training."
Her regimen includes running trails behind the Kurhaus, a historic casino in downtown Wiesbaden, while wearing an oxygen training mask to acclimate to the desert conditions.
"I'm a rhinoceros," she said. "Whatever you put in front of me, I'll push my head down and keep going forward."
It's a trait she learned from her mother, no stranger to life's setbacks. Adams herself survived a car accident that gave her teeth-gritting back pain and enough grit to get through anything. Staying alert for 12 hours of duty during each of her five deployments provided her hardy perseverance.
"Spartan Races would be an amazing tool for the military, especially for leaders," she said. "If you can make it through mud, grass drills, climbing drills, and running in the rain, you have a great foundation to put yourself out there and compete."
Her supervisor, Master Sgt. William Palumbo, is nothing but supportive. Asked to describe her in one word, he replied: "Fortitude."
"Staff Sgt. Adams is one of those people that you want to have in your section because she can motivate a group of people or Soldiers to accomplish a mission in a timely manner with minimal guidance if any," he said.
Adams' advice for those interested in tackling a Death Race of their own? Expect anything, don't psych yourself out and let others inspire you.
"When it gets really tough, I just start talking to my mom and boyfriend," she said. "They get me through."
Adams will compete in a survival race in Nicaragua as well. She aims to show women, and most importantly, the Soldiers she works with, that anything is possible.