On the race's Web site, www.youmaydie.com, organizers list nearly 50 "survivors," or people who have finished the race, ranging in age from 18 to 53.
Already, De Sena is sending Allentuck and other entrants e-mails urging them to back out. "The thing that drives any business owner nuts is the quitters," said De Sena, who made his money on Wall Street. "I want the kind of person who will finish the race.
"What if you're in an Ironman and you come out of the water and there was no seat on the bike?" De Sena said. "What are most people gonna do? They're gonna quit. I want to find the people who would get on and ride 112 miles without the seat."
Given the uncertainty of what they will face in June, how can entrants train for the Death Race? Allentuck has studied videos from previous years and, aside from working with a swim coach to improve his stroke, he said he follows a regimen of his own design.
In addition to regular runs, bike rides and swims, it includes running six miles wearing a backpack filled with 30 pounds of sand; throwing a 45-pound block of concrete for three miles; and pushing a wheelbarrow filled with 120 pounds of sand on trails for three miles.
He also said he is running 4.5 miles to a five-level parking garage, then sprinting up the ramps, doing 50 push-ups, scampering down and back up the stairs, doing 50 crunches and running down the ramps, a circuit he repeats six to eight times before running home.
Allentuck is 5 foot 4 inches tall and 155 pounds of muscle. He trains about 15 hours a week in the winter and more when the weather warms up. He eats what he wants, works full-time and tends to fall asleep by 8:30 p.m. He is up each day in time to take one of his three daughters to her 5 a.m. swim practice.
Sweat pours from beneath the cap on his shaved head, runs down his face and stains his gray sweat shirt as he trudges through the woods carrying the 50-pound section of oak limb. He never sets it down or drags it as he negotiates hills, streams and snow-covered trails. Every 10 minutes, when his watch alarm sounds, he drops the log and does 50 push-ups on it.
He is soft-spoken and given to short sentences. He began his athletic career, he says, as a 120-pound rugby player at North Carolina State University. After graduating, he eventually turned to marathoning, triathlons and now adventure racing.
"When I was thinking about doing my first Ironman, someone told me it would change my life forever. He was right," Allentuck wrote in an e-mail. "When I crossed that finish line, I had the instant feeling that I could accomplish anything. I have shared this with other Ironman finishers and they get it. I think finishing Death Race will be the same way."
Allentuck's route to the Death Race is not uncommon, though Troy Farrar, president of the U.S. Adventure Racing Association, says more competitors come from trail running and mountain biking backgrounds. When the Adventure Racing Association was founded in 1998, it sanctioned perhaps 15 races that involved a few hundred people, he said. Last year it oversaw more than 300 competitions with half a million participants.
Many are professionals who seek relief from their office-bound work weeks at the same time that they challenge their own limits, he said.
"Ten years ago, I knew very few people who had run a marathon," Farrar said. "Nowadays, everyone's grandmother has run a marathon." Adventure racing offers more of a challenge, he says.
Allentuck does not hope to win the race or even come close. His goal is to finish, uninjured. In one winter Death Race, competitors had to jump through a hole in a frozen pond, De Sena recalls. One woman became trapped beneath the ice until a race official leaped in and hauled her out, hypothermic but alive.
Asked how he keeps racers safe, De Sena says: "You don't. You try your best. We hope no one dies. But it's that level of commitment."