This year I decided that I wanted to run a Hurricane Heat. I had heard about them but had never done one or known anyone who had. They intrigued me since they were new and totally different from a typical Spartan Race. I have been finding that although challenging I really do enjoy the endurance events and races like the Spartan Beast. If you have never heard of a Hurricane Heat you can find out more here.
My best friend signed up with me and we decided to make it a girls weekend in Red Deer – she was volunteering in the morning for the Spartan Sprint on Saturday and I was racing the Sprint. The Hurricane Heat started at 4 pm on Saturday night.
A few days before we received an email and an invitation to the private event group on FB. I was feeling nervous about what kind of gear list we would have as I had heard that last year they had to bring 2x4’s and life jackets. We got our standard gear list and our “special” gear list consisted of an apple (yes you read that right) and duct tape (hmmmm?).
We were unsure about where to park so we made sure to head to the event early as we had been warned about being late and the penalties that would be given out if you were. We hustled to get to the starting point in time to see about 30 people lined up in height order of tallest to shortest all wearing black. We added ourselves to the line and waited. Three people were late and after accepting them into the group Krypteia Chris (aka Captain Death) our leader informed us that we would have to do 100 Burpees as a group at some point for the lateness.
At exactly 4 pm we were told to get out our waivers and fuel (no added sugar or caffeine was allowed and all food had to be in clear bags), while we waited to have our waivers collected we waited in listening position…which was a squat hold. This was a position we would get real comfortable with over the course of the next 5.5 hours.
Then we headed up the hill to the bridge for our warm-up. We were told to partner up with someone the same size as us. I ended up in a group of 3 which would prove to have both advantages and disadvantages. Our warm-up was carrying each other across the bridge and then running down the hill, over 4 fences and up the other side back to the start. We had to do this 10 times each, which meant our group of 3 had to do it 30 times. This was probably one of the physically hardest tasks of the night for me, I was dripping sweat but I did get better at jumping over those fences (not so easy when you have super short legs). We worked as a team of 3 and then as a team of 38 once everyone else finished and a few of us still had some rounds left, the others in the group came in to help us finish and we ended as a group helping the last person across the bridge together.
After our warm-up we headed down to the barns where two carriages awaited. We were told that we would be helping out the ranch owners by moving some hay but instead of horses pulling the carriages we would be in teams of two pulling them with ropes instead. One rule at the HH is that you can not ask questions. Your Krypteia will give you a task and as a team you need to figure out how to complete it. So as a team we figured out our ropes and how to move the carriage. Then we loaded it up with hay and headed down the path, little did we know we would not be heading straight to get more hay…we would be stopping along the way to do other tasks.
Next stop was at the kids mud hills, our task was to carry 2 people over the mud mounds without getting them wet or dirty. We chose our two and attempted to body surf them across. Then we realized it was easier for someone to piggy back them and the rest of us to help keep their feet off the ground and clear the path.
Then we ran over to the rolling mud on the adult course and were given our next task. We had to complete 10 suicide runs each. If you’ve ever ran suicide runs with cones you know how much extra challenge that is in mud hills and water and added to the challenge was one of the build crew spraying us with a hose full of very cold water as we passed through the second pit. I did one suicide and then Chris announced that we could do 10 Burpees to count as one suicide up to 50 at once. I knew I was a lot faster at Burpees so I pounded out my 50 and then proceeded to do another suicide run. As a team we had to complete 380 suicides but we all pitched in and worked together to get it done.
Afterwards we spent some time in the dunk wall water up to our necks for the randomly picked time of 1 min 36 seconds.
Then it was back to our carriages to continue down the path, lots of down and up hills meant we had to work as a team. Our team worked really well together, we communicated while and we had some really good laughs while getting to know one another.
After a race with our carriages (this was no easy task trying to run and push a carriage while being eaten alive by mosquitos) we arrived at the hay pile that we needed to move. Chris informed us that one of the build staff had dropped a drill bit in the hay pile…that we needed to find..so literally a needle in a haystack. We started moving the hay while keeping an eye open for the drill bit and as we moved a hay bale near the bottom a mouse came scurrying out…and then we lifted the next bale and there were her babies. We tried to get them off to the side so they didn’t get crushed but I admit I avoided that area after that because well mice are gross and so is there poop. We finally got all the hay loaded and someone found the drill bit. Next was the challenge to turn our cart and steer it back up the big hill we had just come down. This proved to be a lot more difficult than bringing it down.
Our next stop was on the path when we came across a biker that had fallen and cut his head open, luckily we had a medic with us and he was able to help the gentleman and get him back on his way. While we waited we stopped for a break to eat and hydrate. I really appreciated the short breaks and reminders to hydrate and eat.
Then Chris said “we’re going to go play at the park”…play at the park turned out to be doing 50 of our Burpees we owed him…in unison as one unit. There were 38 of us all moving at different speeds which made it challenging to do the Burpees in sync. To help us we had one team member in the squat hold listening position calling out Down and Up to us to keep us in sync. We went at the pace of the slowest person and took breaks when needed. For me the pace was much slower than what I would do on my own so it actually wasn’t the Burpees that were the hardest part but making sure I was paying attention to those around me and to what the leader called out. We also had to do these with our packs on.
We continued on our way back to the festival area and stopped by the spear throw. The people who felt they were the fastest, strongest and best spear throw were asked to step forward. The rest of us had to hold a plank with packs on while the fastest ran a suicide run through the rolling mud, then we had to run over to the Hercules hoist to hold a chin up from the ground (we were all terrible at this lol) while the strongest two held up two sandbags each. Finally we went back to the spear throw and held our squats while the spear was thrown at a hanging apple. The apple wasn’t hit by either spear thrower but we were given the chance to let our team mates try to hit the head of the Spartan on the spear throw target, if he hit it we didn’t have to do our last 50 Burpees. If he didn’t we would have to do 100 Burpees. We trusted he could do it and he did so no more burpees for us.
Finally we got our carriages back to the barn and unloaded all the hay. We were able to feed the horses a few of the apples which was a great treat. Then we headed down to the river where we did some reflecting about why we were here and how endurance events like the Hurricane Heat can effect our lives. One thing I took away from those quiet moments of reflection was that the river doesn’t always flow the way we want it to, sometimes we have to go with the flow and sometimes we have to do things to change the flow. I love that we all probably took something different from what Chris told us that night by the river.
Next we had to get back up the stairs…and we didn’t walk up them. We did 2 up, 1 down…in a bear crawl. All that could be heard was a sing songy rhyme of “two up, one down” over and over again from all of us as we tried to not lose track and not step on each other’s fingers. It was a long bear crawl up those stairs in the rain while being eaten by mosquitos (they were gigantic in the trees!). Finally we reached the top and waited for the others.
We were told there was one last thing to do…and it would prove to be one of the most challenging things. We went back into our original partner groups from the piggy back warm up. We were told to duct tape our ankles and wrists together. By this point it was raining and windy and cold, most of us had at least one wet layer on and we were shivering which made this task extra hard. Once we were all attached together we were told we needed to make the plate drag sand “harder” it was too smooth. So we army crawled/rolled under the ropes of each sled horizontally to move the sand around. We actually had an advantage as a group of three because we had one free leg and arm each which made it easier to maneuver through the sand. Although we really couldn’t use our legs so we had to use our arms and core which is probably why my abs hurt so much the next day. At the end we had our ankles separated but had to crawl back to the start still attached at the wrists. Then we helped the others by lifting the ropes of the sleds to make their passage a bit easier.
When I signed up for the Hurricane Heat I had no idea what to expect, I knew it would be hard and would push me out of my comfort zone. I knew it was a team event and that no one would be left behind. I didn’t know is that I would leave that night 5.5 hours after starting in a line-up with strangers, with so many amazing memories and new friends.
Endurance events are different than a race and in some ways they are harder, you don’t know when they will end, you don’t know what you’ll be asked to do next, you can’t ask questions (you must work as a team to figure out how to do what is being asked of you). A 4 hour HH is not really 4 hours, it’s as long as it takes to do all the tasks the Krypteia has set out for you to do. I would compare it to a Spartan Beast but I often have thoughts at a Beast that go through my mind to quit, at the HH I never once thought about quitting…I couldn’t let my team down by quitting so the thought never crossed my mind. The Hurricane Heat was an amazing experience, one I will never forget. It was a highlight of my 2018 race season and I can’t wait to do another one!
Have you ever done a Hurricane Heat? How did you like it?