Uncommon Pursuits: Stefanie Bishop

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. A Long Island native and former Wall Street analyst, Bishop, 36, has found a career in extreme racing. In 2016, she became the top female competitor in the 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. So what’s next? As soon as her most recent injury is healed, she plans to run her first “official” 100-mile ultramarathon (she says she’s run 100 or more miles in other races, but with other obstacles along the way). She also wants to pursue more adventure races (where physical challenges are combined with scenic wilderness) and mountain biking races. “The mind has immense power,” she says, “and the ability to use it successfully to get through these events and challenges has helped me through many other aspects of my life.”