A Mar Vista firefighter is setting off on a challenge that may intimidate many simply with its title: Death Race.

Steve Stern, a firefighter-paramedic at Los Angeles Fire Department Station 62 in Mar Vista will attempt Death Race 2012 in Pittsfield, VT Friday, June 15. The 39-year-old Los Angeles native said he will compete in the event, which involves a series of unique physical and mental challenges, to raise awareness for the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund of Los Angeles.

Event organizers say the race will push participants mentally, physically and emotionally, and they anticipate that few of the estimated 300 competitors will finish. A $100,000 prize will be awarded to anyone who can finish the challenges in 24 hours.

In previous years, fewer than 10 percent of approximately 300 entrants have finished the race. Organizers have billed the event as so challenging that its website is www.youmaydie.com.

The contest, usually lasting 48 hours, includes:

Mud runs, obstacle racing, and trail racing;

Physical and mental challenges (For example: climbing a 2,000-foot mountain and then having to list the names of the first 10 U.S. presidents);

Dangerous obstacles, including barbed wire; and

Extraordinary feats, such as carrying cinder blocks, buckets or logs weighing 20 to 50 pounds.

For Stern, the race is a way to push his body and brain to their limits, while also supporting a cause close to his heart.

If Stern is able to finish the race, 100 percent of any prize money he receives will go to the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund of Los Angeles. The fund is dedicated to helping firefighters and their families in times of crisis.

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