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For the past decade, Don Devaney has been the main enforcer/henchman of the Spartan Death Race—Spartan’s annual mental and physical torture fest that can last up to 70-plus hours. Browbeating racers and getting them to doubt their strength to continue is the job. And he’s top-notch at it, routinely reminding racers to “move with purpose or be eliminated.”
Outside that role, the Vermont native is a tough guy to dislike. He’s jovial and quick-witted and has an infectious laugh. He’s also tough as hell and is clearly taking his own advice to move with purpose.
Devaney has completed three Death Races, and the lessons he took away from them helped him realize that without a plan B, you leave yourself no choice but to succeed. This is why, before he opted to embark on a cross-country bike ride to raise awareness for One Step Ahead Foundation, he shifted all his money to his daughter. Doing so meant he had only one option: Pedal.
We caught up with Devaney in Vermont at the 2019 Death Race, while he was 9,145 miles into an 11,536-mile journey.
M&F: What is the One Step Ahead Foundation?
Don Devaney: It was created by fellow Death Racer Amy Palomar Winters to raise awareness and funds to help children with mobility issues.
The goal of this ride is to raise awareness for the foundation?
Along with raising awareness, we’d like to put those children with mobility issues with other adaptive athletes in hopes that they inspire those kids to dream bigger or to get out in nature.
How many hours a day are you on the bike?
Eight, nine, 10, 12 hours a day, by myself, in my head.
And it’s enjoyable?
It’s living without expectation. It’s just going. I know that I’ve got to go out, and I’ve got to get on the bike, and I’ve got to pedal, and I’m going to see amazing things.
What is something that you’ve seen or noticed?
America is great. It doesn’t need to be made great again or anything like that. It’s great. I’ve seen it firsthand every day. I’ve had not one bad experience. People are naturally good. People want to help.
Follow Devaney on Instagram: @art.fully014.