Zero dark thirty. A parking lot somewhere or nowhere. The air is damp. Remnants of the previous evenings deluge still hangs off tree and person alike. A black technical (thats a pickup truck for you non-military types) marks the make shift rally point. Tommy Mac and his staff greet each HH’er collecting waivers and directing them to put excess gear into the back of the Technical. This is the Hurricane Heat. A team oriented pre-race heat for Spartan racers who need an extra adrenaline push before they start their race day.
HH-016 was special. It marked the 1st anniversary of the original HH brought on by Hurricane Irene. Where hearty souls took up Joe D’s challenge to run into the storm. So successful was that first HH in 2011 that Spartan Race has run 16 more. Yet again setting a standard for separating themselves from their competition. By listening to their racers their Spartans most importantly their family. All Spartan Racers are family. HH’ers are like that awe inspiring Aunt or Uncle. The one that shows up at birthday parties and holidays with strange gifts and stories from exotic places. Their stories seep into your imagination until one day you decide you too need to go on an adventure too. HH-016 was just that adventure for so, so many.
When Spartan Race says 0530 sharp with a start time of 0600 they mean it. I learned on my first HH, HH-007, that you do not want to be late! Not wanting to be that guy, I also learned being early is no prize. Now I have just given in to the fact that early or late your going to be doing burpees, lots of burpees.
Along the dirt trail which makes up a nice piece of downhill on the course HHer’s were assembling. Breaking off into groups. Strangers, pairs, small groups, Spartan veterans and previous HH’ers. For me it was an internet reunion. I couldn’t turn around without seeing someone I have ran with at a Spartan Race, HH, met at training camps, volunteered with at the DR, handed out flyers at an expo with, or met in Spartan FB pages. Former co-workers, Fire Academy graduates. This was like a small version of “This is your life 2011-2012” Yeah I was more than happy.
Typical of every HH the forming of groups is paramount. And staying with that group is the goal. To work together. Out of the 22 persons on team “Lost” I knew 4 prior to starting. Because I am terrible with names I tend to characterize by apparel. And Spartan did a great job of killing that for me by making everyone wear black. I know now Dom was wearing his signature Orange hat. Keith a blue back pack, the 2 wonderful ladies from Canada who did not speak to much english, which didn’t slow team “Lost” in anyway, and Mikel who translated. Sandy protected the eggs, Brig had a k-9 eaten Tough Mudder shirt, someone had a pack with the Zelda logo on it, Devin more hair on his face than on his head. Steve all the way in from AZ who I was with at HH-007. Our Team Captain with the epic left arm sleeve tattoo. Lisa another DR racer, over coming injury to run. Some other heavily accented Gents who could scale walls like Spiderman. This partial list is brought to you by Aricept. For those I can’t immediately recall my most sincere apologies. Because Team LOST was, to date, my favorite team to have been a part of. Micha Arnoulds team in AZ was hard to beat. And Storm Chasers IN was a classy group.
Team Lost immediately grasped the concepts of team work and accountability. Together we pushed, pulled, carried and motivated each other. This is what the HH is all about. Whether carrying a tire over water pits, assisting each other over walls or up ropes. Team Lost always put the mission first, never accepted defeat, never quit and never a left a fallen comrade. I have read posts from those on Team Warrior, Team Ninja and The Storm Chasers. The Warrior Ethos was plainly in use on every team. Even “bleedover” teams were people got confused, and lost their original team. They were quickly absorbed into another. This is how the HH works because in the end we are all one team.
There are many exhaustive recaps of HH-016 online. Very excellent recaps that cover each and every nuance of the course. I love those recaps. Mainly because I’m lucky if I can remember what I had for breakfast, so in reading their work I can relive moments which blew by me in a blur. Those who can recall each obstacle and challenge certainly have superior memories to mine. I don’t remember each challenge individually because my HH’s start the moment I try to sleep the night before, through the groggy sleep deprived drive to the Heat and then the awesomeness of the Heat itself. I don’t take stock of the how many walls, pits, hills, ropes of burpees I did. Much like a boxer doesn’t take inventory of the punches he threw or the hits he took. He just keeps going till the bell rings or his gets bell rung.
Its time for you who have not done an HH to get off the fence. There were so many first time Spartan first time HH’ers at HH-016. You can do it. I believe in you. More than 150 people who turned out on Saturday believe in you. You will never reach your limits if you don’t find out where they are. To go further than you ever have you must first go to where you have never been. Take the challenge run the Hurricane Heat.