February 24, 2024

Book Review: Legend of the Death Race

Author: Evan Perperis
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Tony Matesi recently released his book “Legend of Death Race: Conquering Life with Courage, Power, & Wisdom.”  The book covers Death Race events from Tony’s perspective from 2012, 2013, and 2014.   As an ultra-endurance athlete, I was excited to hear details about another extreme endurance event that is often shrouded in secrecy.  Here’s what I thought as I read through the book in only a couple of sittings.

Most endurance books start off with a detailed backstory of the athlete.  Tony breezes through this section touching briefly on his background before jumping head first into Death Race.  Personally, I would have liked a little more about his past, but the book is ultimately about Death Race, so I think the people who are interested in focused reading about the event will appreciate him getting to the important parts of the book.

Without ruining how each event turns out, I’ll just say that things don’t always go as expected both for Tony and other participants.  The variety of challenges that are sometimes monotonous, sometimes disgusting but most often insane, really give you a feel for the event.  Tony’s book felt like an almost minute by minute account of what was occurring pushing you deep into the mindset and suffering of those participating.

If you are familiar with the world of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), I think you’ll enjoy mentions of some of the other top athletes participating in Death Race during Tony’s experiences.  Names like Junyong Pak, Amelia Boone, Isaiah Vidal, Mark Jones, and Morgan McKay are all mentioned in the book.  Some in passing and some as part of a more in depth part of the story.  Plus he mentions a lot of other well-known people in the industry including Spartan Race founder Joe DeSena, Margaret Schlachter, Spartan Race course designer Norm Koch and a host of other athletes from the events for their quality performances.

Who is this book for?  This book as something for everyone in it:

  1. If you have ever participated in Death Race, want to participate in one or are interested in other “Assessment and Selection Events (ASE)” (such as SISU or GoRuck Selection) you need this book. Those specifically going to Death Race it will give you details of what types of events you will be facing.  I say “types of events” because like any good ASE they change, modify and add things from one iteration to the next.
  2. If you have any interest in other endurance events (ex. Toughest Mudder, Spartan Ultra-Beast, World’s Toughest Mudder, etc.) this book will give you a deep dive into the mindset of an endurance athlete, who by self-admission, went into his first Death Race unprepared. If you have ever done an endurance event, you most likely will find yourself in over your head at some point and I think you can learn valuable lessons from Tony the easy way…by reading it instead of experiencing it firsthand.
  3. If you are just looking for a good story about a man pushing himself to his limits and then beyond, you’ll enjoy this book. Although the story is 100% about Death Race, you don’t have to be familiar with Death Race, OCR or any of the personalities before reading the book.  Tony breaks things down so anyone can enjoy the story of his journey and the extreme endurance challenges he faced.

As a fellow author, I was super excited to see another athlete write a book.  I got into endurance racing a large part because of the books I read and the OCR world seems to have very few at this point.  I’m hoping Tony’s book is the first of many from other athletes within OCR highlighting the events and community that make this sport great.  Support the athletes in our sport by picking up a copy of Tony’s book either in digital, hard copy, or audiobook, and good luck to those getting ready to take on the wild world of Death Racing.

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