Competing in a race designed to break you both mentally and physically is daunting enough, but when it requires participants to publicly announce their intentions to finish the race or be forced to complete brutal tasks, it just becomes downright cruel.

Darien resident Bryan Murphy is no stranger to marathon-esque races as he has competed in a number of triathlons in his lifetime. However, after successfully completing a few triathlons, he decided he wanted to push himself further. The desire to do more is what led him to one of the most physically and mentally challenging competitions in the country: the Death Race.

"Every year I try to do something that really pushes me," Murphy said. "This is so far out there that it had this attraction."

Although Murphy has some doubts about whether he can finish -- the race can last anywhere from 18 to 40 hours or more -- he has begun conditioning his mind and body for any possible challenges.

Luckily, he isn't alone in his efforts to prepare as his wife, Sara, has happily been volunteering him to neighbors to help dig holes and do plantings.

"I was looking around the yard and I didn't need anything uprooted," Sara said. "Our neighbors were doing some plantings so I told them Bryan could dig holes and do the plantings for them."

The Death Race is held in Pittsfield, Vt., on June 25. Participants don't know what challenges they'll face. Looking at past years of the competition, Murphy said he is able to get a general idea of what he could expect.

"I know they like to make you carry around heavy things, so whenever I'm in the woods I'm carrying a heavy load," he said.

Physically preparing for the competition is only a piece of the puzzle, though, because there are numerous mental challenges associated with the race.

"One year I know they made people run up a mountain and memorize a list of the first 10 presidents and then run back down the mountain. If you couldn't remember the names at the bottom, you had to run back up again," Murphy said.

The punishment doesn't end there; before the race begins, Murphy is required to have a story published about his intentions to compete in the event. If he didn't get a story published, he would have to shave his entire body and roll a bale of hay up a hill.

"The last thing I want to do is declare I'm participating in this race," he said. "If it wasn't for this task I wouldn't want people to know."

Two of Murphy's biggest concerns about competing in the Death Race are whether he has the stamina to make it through and if he will have trained enough. However, his concerns are tempered by the knowledge he is able to persevere and overcome obstacles.

"I think I'm just dumb enough to do it and I've got the desire to persevere," he said.

Sara is confident in her husband's ability to complete the race.

"He's never not finished something he's started," she said. "I think he's really strong willed."

If he successfully completes the race, Murphy doesn't get anything more than the knowledge he was able to do it. The satisfaction of completing the race is enough for Murphy, who said it's important to do things you wouldn't normally try.

"I always think it's a good idea to pick something outside your comfort zone," he said.