As soon as Spartan started to drip feed through the information about the release the first Spartan endurance events in the UK, as an avid Spartan fan I just new I had to be a part of it.
I say an avid fan in the sense that I love the Spartan races, I love the ethos, I love the events and how it gives me a focus with my training and most of all the sense of achievement that comes with completing these gruelling events, but in all honesty I didn’t know all that much about the Hurricane Heats or the other endurance events.
So in the lead up to my first endurance trifecta I wanted to share my experiences through this blogging and vlogging about my perspective of the experience.
The way Spartan have marketed the event is very clever. It’s an exclusive event, only 150 allowed in, they are very secretive about what goes on and like to keep you guessing and for me this was most of the exciting parts. It’s a mental challenge as well as a physical one.
The mind games started well before the actual event with the release of the kit list. A kit list which some people took a little more serious than others, as a good few still managed to turn up on the day without the correct items, which didn’t go down too well with the Kryptiea (the Kryptiea are the guys in charge of the course, the punishments and putting you through your paces). And what doesn’t go down well with them, got taken out on us in the warm up, which was actually one of the hardest parts of the night.
We on the other hand, had our kit ready and prepped in plenty of time. I say ‘we’, because my main wing woman Victoria did all the prep work on my behalf so I didn’t have to lug these slightly unusual items on my hand luggage on the flight over from France.
The kit list included:
And this is where the excitement really started for us. As I had a friend who was going to be in there doing the even with me, we would have conversations, second guessing what the items would be needed for, searching on Google to get insights of what the Americans had to deal with as they have been doing these events over there for some time.
It encouraged us to up our training, we got excited, we were focused and I had worked to create a more balanced training program for myself with more strength work involved. I was getting more organised!!
I was already out running and hiking quite a lot as I live in the mountains, it’s out on my doorstep and what I love doing, but I was now starting to add a weighted ruck onto my back for some runs and for bodyweight HIIT sessions, and walking with hand weights too when I went out with the dogs.
And the ruck training worked well, I felt stronger as I had previously been spending so much of my training time running trails, getting ready for the Beast Ultra, that my upper body strength had taken a dive.
As I did a final hiit session on the Friday before the race, I completed some unweighted push up’s in my session and hit 22 push ups, which is the best I had done in some time, so I was feeling good with the progress that had been made thanks to weighted ruck training sessions.
And for me this was already a huge win and why I choose to take part in such events. It’s also why when I work with my own coaching clients that we work on having an end goal, an event to work towards, because it not only helps maintain focus and motivation, but those little wins that you achieve along the way (like the 22 push ups) build your self confidence, a reminder of what you can be capable of when you decide to push and put in a little extra work because you are focused on committing to something that is a little scary. Doing something that feels a little bit bigger than your current capabilities.
And this is another factor of the HH, this is not about you being in competition with other people. The HH is a team event, about working together and I’m sure each person took something very different away from this event.
So now, looking back on the event and having had a little time to absorb what actually went on, I defiantly learnt a few things about myself and these are lessons that I will now be taking forward to the HH12HR event in September.
First off is that the extra training defiantly paid off, I felt good going into the event and felt fully capable of doing everything that was thrown at us. But this did mean at times during the 4 hours I was left wondering if I could have done more, could we have been challenged more, yet this was a team event and there were some people struggling, a good few people got injured, a team can only be as fast as the slowest person and so we had to be in it together!!!! Obviously something I have to build on in becoming a better team member.
For me the hardest thing was the cold. After doing burpies in a pool of stinking muddy water that was filled with tadpoles, we were soaked to the bone and as the sun went down and the evening turned into night, it got cold, very cold!!!!
At times I was shivering hard and it was during this time I did go into my head a little more. My attention separated from the team as all I could think about was how damn cold I was!!!! I’m sure looking back it wasn’t that bad but at the time it felt like the worst thing ever, I hate feeling cold and so I wasn’t really paying as much attention to what was going on, I was just shivering hard!!!
I did managed to come back into it, I kept jogging on the spot to keep warm and once I got back onto working with the team and taking my turn on carrying the log (which actually kept me much warmer), I started to feel a little more like a team player again.
This was the very first event in the UK and I am wondering if the Spartan team were just testing the waters. I did leave feeling that I wanted ‘more’. I wanted more of a challenge, I wanted a little more variety rather than just carrying a log the entire time, I wanted more mind fucks and punishments. Maybe I’m just a little sadistic, but now I also feel spurred on to go and find more challenges knowing that I am capable of more. It’s done what I hoped it would and has built confidence as I can look back at this as a win.
We had conjured up some crazy ideas for what the salt and pepper pot were for, thinking all sorts from using it to map out a route to find our ways back, to having to eat something disgusting in ‘I’m A Celebrity’ style grossness. Yet all they were used for was to incorporate a nursery rhyme into small hill runs, of which there were only actually 4 reps of.
Having the milk bottles were not particularly heavy and were manageable apart from having them wrapped around our neck using the para cord which really cut in and got pretty painful towards the end.
I enjoyed seeing how the team developed and started to work better together over time. And just like you would in the real world people very quickly established their roles within the group.
The Alpha males taking their stance as leaders, though equally a couple of alpha females who did a great job in organising people, others in the group would put their suggestions forward to bring about a little more cohesion which developed as we progressed through the evening. We were a team, we were team C and I, C103 loved that.
With any event I do I will always use it as an opportunity to learn more about myself. Though in my own businesses I find it easy to step up as a leader, BUT I’m also a natural introvert, so in group situations I am equally happy to let others take lead and just muck in where I am needed.
I realise that I find working in a group challenging, I am naturally quite competitive, not with other people, but competitive with myself. Usually when I am racing I am in my own head, my priority is getting across that finish line, pushing myself and doing the best that ‘I’ can do. And we know there is no ‘I’ in team. This was about working with others, and in a large group and that is both challenging and frustrating, but again this is the point of the event right?
So while I was left feeling that I wanted more, I also get to remember that this is an entry-level endurance event. It’s only 4 hours, there was a wide range of fitness levels and this is a great event for people wanting to step into doing something very different to a normal Spartan race.
Knowing Spartan and the amazing brand that they are I’m sure that these events will get better and better over time.
I am already signed up for the full endurance Trifecta, which includes the Ultra Beast in Edinburgh and then the next HH, which is a 12-hour event. 12 hours is a freeking LONG time and a BIG step up so I’m excited to see how I feel at the end of that one and being able to maintain the Spartan Warrior Ethos:
I will always place the mission first
I will never accept defeat
I will never quit
I will never leave a fallen comrade