Lets get some background out of the way – Spartan Race is a series of obstacle course races that I’ve been running since 2010 – but you probably know what they are. The Hurricane Heat is a special, untimed, team based run of the course that happens the morning of, or night before – born out of a cancelled race back in 2011 due to Hurricane Irene. This is a review / write up of the Hurricane Heat from the 2012 New England Sprint race, and has little to nothing to do with photography
They are special. They push you physically and mentally, as well as test and grow your ability to work in a team. They are rewarding, I’m already booked for the 2013 Hurricane Heat.
None of that tells you what they are – and because each HH is different, it’s hard to explain them well. Instead, I’ll tell you my experience of Hurricane Heat 16, the one year anniversary.
I hadn’t anticipated that the Hurricane Heat would actually start well before the 5:30am Saturday meeting time. Required gear lists were being teased all week (Thanks Tommy Mac!), and when they finally came out – confusion reigned when we realized there were different lists … oh boy … would we need the egg? The candle? what was the jump rope for? Sandles?! My only advice for future HH participants – just go with it – it’s part of the experience, and if you let them get in your heads now …
We met in a parking lot at 5:30am – with stern warnings not to be the last person there, and strong advice not to be the first either. Before we knew it, we were doing burpees. Then more burpees. Then more burpees. Just for fun, you know. Teams of 25 were formed, and team names made up – my team became the Junior Varsity Ninja Death Sqaud … didn’t take long for us to become simply Team Ninja. We moved onto the course and started doing more burpees, jumping jacks, lining up on the trail and doing some “rocking chair” movements as a group (I’m sure they looked better than they felt …) – at one point, a lovely young French lady walked across us, counting aloud and we were told to remember our number – I was soixante et un, but of course, we never used it again … We formed back up as a team, and wisely gave ourselves team numbers so we could easily stick together – from this point on, I was Ninja Two (also known as “English Ninja” – but I tended to think of myself as “Shouty Ninja”, as I seemed to do a lot of that …)
Then we started moving. At this point, a blow by blow recap of the four hours would follow, but it’s a total blur, so you’re just going to get the highlights. It wouldn’t matter anyway, you won’t be doing the same things. We moved through the course sideways, backwards, in loops – sometimes we didn’t even run through the course at all.
As a team, we had to carry several tractor tires, with one of our team mates perched on top. As a team, we had to all make it to the top of the 15′ rope – which started in chest deep water – and if you ever want to see an example of team work – ask 25 random strangers to help each other up a rope. We went through the barbed wire crawl in both directions, we hopped in the water filled trenches several times, we climbed all kinds of walls. We climbed the cargo net, ran down the hill, then picked up a buddy (Hi Jessica!) and carried them back up again. Then we did the same thing with 40lb Spartan Pancakes. We chanted the Warrior Ethos at the top of the slope – led on by the infamous Sgt Sedlack, and paused for a photo op.
I will always place the mission first
I will never accept defeat
I will never quit
I will never leave a fallen comrade
One of my favorite moments was around 3 hours in – we were sharing the course with the Elite and early waves, and Tommy Mac had to get the HH’ers from one point of the course to another through a series of single track paths (that happened to run through muddy swamps) – without interrupting the athletes on the course. So, as a single file, we hoofed it. I was fortunate to be right up front, and to see the look of astonishment on the athletes as a pack of backpacked, muddy Hurricane Heaters overtook them as we bombed through was priceless. Weren’t we supposed to be the tired ones?
That gear list we agonized over for a week? We used the eggs – in one instance, two people from our team had to be in the air, with eggs, while we went over walls and through nets (this will show how quickly your teams will come together …). In the second instance, we threw them, at a 6′ wall with strict instructions not to miss or we’d do burpees. Miss? A six foot wall? Someone did. Burpees! I laughed every time I approached that wall for the rest of the weekend – how on *earth* do you miss a huge ass wall?
Before we knew it, we’re back at the top of the main hill, forming up behind the fire obstacle. Sgt Sedlack is leading us through louder and louder repetitions of the Warrior Ethos, and we can see the crowds at the bottom of the hill, but they can’t see us. We get louder and louder, then GO! A 250 strong pack of screaming Hurricane Heaters leaped over the fire and bombed down the hill – we hit the 45 degree soapy wall (please don’t slip, please don’t slip … this wall killed me last year!), then through the Spartans to the finish line!
Yeah, that was awesome. I walked right out into some friends who were getting ready for their heat, and some more who were volunteering at the finish line – I got the huge compliment “You’re crazy!”, and I couldn’t get the big, sh*t eating grin off my face.
An hour later I was wearing my Hurricane Heat dogtags, changed, and lining up with the same friends to go out and run the course “properly” – and bugging the crap out of them with my “when we did this earlier” talk. My time sucked, and I didn’t care – I still had a big grin slapped on my face.
Hurricane Heat – big thumbs up. See you in 2013.
All photos thanks to Amanda Ricciardi and her father, Richard Ricciard who ran along after us with a camera