Death Race finisher gives advice for outlasting the elements

By Carolyn Dean

Let’s be honest, with a shortened amount of sunlight and days when the thermometer barely rises above 10 degrees, going outside can be miserable without proper preparation.

Dylan Davis, 23 from Butler, Penn., knows this firsthand. He recently was one of nine finishers in the Winter Death race held in Pittsfield, Vt., and had some advice for people who are looking to stay active and outside all year round. “I witnessed many athletes succumb to the elements,” said Davis about the weather during the multi-day race whose first night temperatures dropped to minus 20.

First, there are some common rules about winter sports we might take for granted: cotton kills, layers are vital, and sweating can be dangerous. Working out with removable layers is key to staying comfortable and keep body temperature at a healthy level. In preparation for the race Davis trained outside in the cold, working to accelerate his heart rate to the point of raising his body temperature to a uncomfortable level. He would then practice removing and adding layers in accordance with his exertion and body heat levels.

“There is a science to this process, binding man to gear in a way is critical to survival in such an event,” explained Davis. Wool and better yet, Merino wool, known for its extra-soft texture, is a must for athletes looking to stay dry and warm. Wool has the triple power of warmth, wicking, and quick drying that keeps people outside for longer periods safely.

Davis described his garment regime in detail. He uses Athletics8 compression gear that is known for its fast-drying and long sustaining qualities. He then layers thicker compression, fleece, thermals, and wool followed by shell jackets, neck warmers, face balaclava, gaiters, and various types of gloves.

“It’s all about maintaining a comfortable temperature for your body and not being too sweaty. When I would warm up I would remove my heavier gloves and replace them with something thinner and lighter, like work gloves,” said Davis.

While you may not be jumping into freezing water or hauling a telephone pole-size log up a mountain, as Davis and other athletes did for this year’s Winter Death race, quality and confidence in our gear will lead to success and achievement in the uncertainty of Vermont winters.

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