0400 came early. After having driven for more than 13 hours in a rental van, we checked into our hotel in Amesbury (MA), unloaded, put kids to bed, and then I tried to get some sleep. Only, I was far too excited.
Yeah, I didn’t sleep for crud that night.
Nonetheless, my energy levels were pretty high — not sure if it was excitement, nerves, adrenaline, or just the relief of being up for a run instead of more driving, but it didn’t matter. HERE I GO!
Now, the Hurricane Heat logistics included a set of required gear (water, energy tabs or bars, a headlamp, and a rock. Yes, a plain, simple rock), and they told us to appear at the designated parking lot, arriving EXACTLY at 0530. Not 0500, not 0600, but 0530. I ran into a guy named Eric (nice guy, BTW) who had just run the HH in Portland, OR the week prior. He warned me to not be the first guy or the last guy.
So, when I drove over to the site, I was running about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. My GPS notified me that I was only 0.2mi away from my destination, so I pulled over into some towing company’s parking lot only to find THREE OTHER CARS full of HH runners doing the same thing I was doing: avoiding the punishment of being the first guy there! Haha! Smart people we are. Well, sorta — I mean, we paid for what awaited us. Masochistic, I know.
Two minutes before the specified arrival time, we drove on to the actual parking location. When we showed up there were people already doing burpees — the first ones must’ve arrived en masse. Glad that wasn’t me in their vehicle. Spartan Race folks were collecting Death Waivers from the rest of us (seriously), and then they told us to do burpees, too. OK.
After 20 or so burpees, they directed us to form a single-file line. They walked down and had us bark out our number, starting with the first person being #1, the second being #2, etc., until everyone had a number. The next orders were: “Number 1 is to do 1 burpee. Number 2 is to do 2 burpees, Number 3, 3, and so on.” GO!”
Crap, I was #37. Still, it was better than being #121.
They stopped us short of completing this fortunately (well, not me — I did my 37 before they called us done), and then commanded us to break into groups of 20. Not 10, not 15, not 21 or 22, but **20**. So, we did. However, somehow we ended up with 21 people in ours. Turns out, some folks in other groups decided they wanted to run together so some chick got dumped into our group. I volunteered to find another, but the next three groups I attempted to join already had +20 people in them, so I returned as #21 to my original group. Fortunately, no one counted and “punished” us. Then, we were directed that to form single-file rows by group. There were 6 groups, so 6 lines.
The Spartan HH Crew then hopped into the back of a pickup truck, backed out, and barked for us to “keep up and keep in your lines”. They drove to the venue, while we HHers ran the 1.2 miles behind the truck. These people must be recovering DIs. Anyway, it was a great warmup.
Once there we were instructed to re-form our group in rows, count to ensure everyone arrived (“No Spartan Left Behind”), and then break up into groups of three. Not 2, not 4, but **3**. I was in a group with a big dude in a knee brace, and a chick that weighed 120# soaking wet. Man, was I glad for that — we were instructed to get up the hill with only 4 feet on the ground at any point. I introduced myself to the lady in our group. Her name is Malorie. “Malorie, it’s nice to meet you. I hope you don’t mind, but we’re about to get real friendly.” I threw Malorie over my shoulder in a fireman’s carry and started uphill with Knee-Brace Guy walking beside us. We all talked while I trudged up the hill with her on my shoulders. It wasn’t too bad.
“Now, go back down the same way.”
Next, after we reached the bottom and re-formed our groups into lines, they marched us over to the Sandbag Carry station. Normally, during a regular Spartan Race, guys grab the 40# sandbells and ladies grab the 20# ones. Not in the Hurricane Heat. Guys & gals alike had to grab 2 of their respective weights — that’s another 80# I have to carry uphill and back down. At least Malorie’s weight was more, so I was warmed up for this. Up, down, and drop my bags. I was good to go. Then, I looked up and saw Eric (the guy from the previous night who warned me about some of the HH antics) struggling mightily. He looked wiped already, and had dropped one of his bags.
Now, it’s about here that I should introduce you to the Warrior Ethos:
- I will always put the mission first.
- I will never accept defeat.
- I will never quit.
- I will never leave a fallen comrade.
We had already recited this thrice on this morning by the time we had gotten to this point. It was the last element that went through my head as I ran, yes ran, back up the hill to the top and retrieved Eric. I grabbed his dropped sandbell, offered to carry the other, and I walked downhill with him, side-by-side. He was not going to fail. Not on my watch.
Next, we were to go across the Traverse Wall. Falling off meant burpees *AND* a second attempt… or third, or fourth… until everyone on the team made it across. As HHers finished, they were instructed to get into a plank position and hold it until all made it through. However, some of us violated this requirement, much to the delight of the Spartan Race crew. Instead, we held our teammates up against the Traverse Wall so that they did not fall off. None of our crew did burpees that morning for this trial. That’s how Spartans roll.
We were then told to go back over the Traverse Wall in reverse, and then over the 30′ high climbing bridge that was also the Start Point for the actual race, and then we were instructed to head back uphill and into the woods.
And so our morning went. You probably get the idea by now — burpees, grueling runs, burpees, rope climbs, more team stuff, burpees, and then we did burpees.
Hour 3 had come upon us. At this point, both spectators and Elite Heat racers were showing up, stretching, whatever, and we were paraded in front of them all like collegiate hazing victims. First it was holding the yoga pose, “Boat” while humming the Jeopardy song and some psychotic fitness coach barked at us DI style. We held that position until he was happy with our harmony. Then, planks. And more of the Jeopardy song. I could feel my obliques begin to charlie-horse. We kept singing.
Oh, we’re not even close to done.
Next, the parade took us over to the DJ’s station so that *everyone* could hear the commotion and watch us in awe, wonder, laughter, and what-not. I’m sure there are plenty of FB pics of us out there. So, what’s next? If you guessed burpees, go buy yourself a drink. Yup, more burpees. BUT, this time we had to bark out the Spartan “AROO!” every time we leapt. What? We weren’t in synch, so we kept doing them until our Master & Commander was satisfied.
He was never satisfied.
So, we got down on our faces while he growled out our next instructions: PLYO PUSHUPS! This seemed eternal. We were all done at this point. You can see it, hear it, feel it — finished. Done. Kaput.
Dan is a Hurricane Heater with only 2/3 of his left arm. Dan was doing everything he was told. Dan was doing plyo-pushups and leaving the ground on every single one. Impressive. Inspiring. So, I pushed harder, and kept going. I finished as strongly as my body would let me, but my mind would not let me quit.
I’m not sure how many plyo-pushups we ended up doing, but it exceeded 50 — was probably closer to 100. No exaggeration.
I lost count on the burpees after we crested 200…