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Scaling volcanoes and swimming with sharks 0

By Roberta Bell, Orillia Packet & Times

John Waite, pictured in September 2012 participating in the Team Death Race in Pittsfield, Vt., is preparing to travel to Ometepe Island in Nicaragua, where he will be scaling volcanoes, fending off poisonous snakes, swimming with sharks and wading through quicksand in a minimalist survival race next month. 
ROBERTA BELL - THE PACKET & TIMES

John Waite, pictured in September 2012 participating in the Team Death Race in Pittsfield, Vt., is preparing to travel to Ometepe Island in Nicaragua, where he will be scaling volcanoes, fending off poisonous snakes, swimming with sharks and wading through quicksand in a minimalist survival race next month. ROBERTA BELL - THE PACKET & TIMES

ORILLIA - 

John Waite will be racing for survival next month in Nicaragua.

His goal? Not to fail.

The local obstacle racer will be competing in the Feugo y Agua Feb. 16 on Ometepe Island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.

“It’s a legitimate survival race,” Waite said of the 70-kilometre event, which could very well be his toughest to date.

Like the other 50 to 60 people registered, Waite has no idea what to expect from the course.

What he does know, however, is he’ll have to fight his way through wild vines and quicksand, fending off poisonous snakes and insects, as he tries to outrun the clock.

“It’s a bit of a sprint,” said Waite, who expects the 18-hour time limit to test his stamina.

Unlike other survival events he’s participated in, runners aren’t allowed to bring tools. All they’re allowed to carry is a basic first-aid kit and some anti-venom.

“It’s a minimalist race,” said Waite, who will also be scaling a live volcano and swimming with bull sharks. “Basically, it’s bare hands.”

Finishers will be awarded a four-part medal that spells out “I DID NOT FAIL.”

Making it to the end of the course doesn’t mean you get the entire thing. The pieces have to be earned. The participants just don’t know how yet.

The “NOT” is going to be the hard part to get, said Waite, who speculates the majority of participants are going to walk away with “I FAIL” or “I DID FAIL.”

Waite was recently hired as the international quality control manager for Spartan Race.

“Over the next three years, it’s going absolutely global,” he said of the obstacle-racing company.

In addition to the United States and Canada, Spartan will be holding events in the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Australia and Mexico this year. Next year, it will be expanding into South America, throughout Europe and into Asia.

Waite will be travelling to all non-U.S. events to enforce standards.

“The sport has grown really quickly,” said Waite, who was sold on it after he completed his first Spartan Race at Mt. Tremblant in 2010.

The road racer and ultra-marathoner has since done about 10 obstacle events, including a number of Death Race events in Pittsfield, Vt.

“So many times, you have to dig in and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and then finish anyway,” said Waite, who, in September 2012, won the Team Death Race, with three of his friends.

“It’s not about being the toughest guy in the world,” he said. “It’s about going out and doing these things that help me find new aspects to myself I didn’t know were there before.”

roberta.bell@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @roberta__bell

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