Uncommon Pursuits: Stefanie Bishop
By Alan Wechsler
Uncommon Pursuits is a series about alumni whose careers took them off the beaten path.
On a Friday in February 2010, Stefanie Bishop, Interior Design '10, left class at FIT early and drove to an event in Pittsfield, Vermont, called the Death Race.
Bishop had been a competitive triathlete since 2005, but was looking for a new challenge. The Death Race offered it. Held in the Green Mountains, the event involves 24 hours of diabolical tasks, both physical and otherwise. Its slogan: “You may die.” During the race, she split wood for hours, built a wheelbarrow to carry the wood up a snow-covered mountain (constantly bogging down in the snow), fought an Olympic wrestler, and memorized a sequence of 21 numbers while running four miles. Bishop (the sole competitor to remember the sequence) won the race. World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour obstacle course, in Lake Las Vegas, named for its namesake mud crawl. She’s competed all over the world, from canoe races on the lakes of Canada to foot races in the mountains of Patagonia. “I work better when I have to endure something over a long period of time,” she says. “There’s something that clicks in my mind, and I fall into the state of flow and just do it.” She’s paid for her passion for extremes. Over the years, she’s faced Lyme disease and a foot injury. And she had to take most of 2018 off due to a stress fracture in her leg that occurred while attempting to defend her Toughest Mudder title in 2017. “I’ve never had a pain like that before,” she says. Still, Bishop says it’s not about the suffering … well, not entirely, anyway. She also loves the people she meets, the network of friends from all over the world with whom she’s bonded during these limit-pushing experiences. And of course, it’s the challenge. “It’s my desire to see how far I’m able to go,” she says.