0530, 11 Feb 2012 Rawhide. Chandler Arizona. HH-007
Dispatches from the Storm Front.
Arizona, pre-dawn. The darkened desert stretches for miles and seems to absorb the light from my rental cars headlamps. The ever expanding darkness is not a comfort. Coyotes really are howling in the distance, otherwise I had the area to myself. Off in the distance the coyote pack was getting really fired up now. Those little desert tricksters, they definitely knew something I didn’t. I’m sure they’re on Joe DeSena’s payroll.
Shortly more cars begin to arrive. People started lacing up shoes, turning on headlamps, mowing down powerbars and prepping for the unknown. Though the darkness we could hear “Everyone lets form it up!” I know the voice. Its a measured thoughtful voice. Much like that of a college professor. You know the voice, its the kind of voice that asks ridiculously hard questions with an even, relaxed tone because he knows all the answers. Its Joe D, he must have rode in on the backs of his howling coyotes.
Dispatch note number 1: Although they tell you not to be late, being early is not a prize.
So while we wait for other HH’ters to arrive and get themselves set; we burpee, we jumping jack, we yoga, we do not wait standing still. As 0600 approaches we here “Tommy, do we have everyone?” Its a logistical question, it’s asked in that all knowing tone of a Senior Drill Sergeant. The kind of tone that makes a statement in the form of a question. Joe’s saying everyone that is present is all that will be going. The question didn’t require an answer. Its go time.
With no regard to instruction our first task is beckoned. “Break yourselves into 3 teams, preferably with people you don’t know!” 30 29 28 27…”Who’s the team Captain?” Raising Micha Arnoulds hand I proudly proclaimed “Micha!” 26,25,24,23. Micah went to retrieve something when “Whats the team name?” was asked. “Street Team!” I responded. Little did I know how well this fit our team. There were at least 7 Spartan Race Street Team members on our team that ended up with 13 members. As for the other 2 teams; Rattlesnake and the one that wasn’t Rattlesnake. They were just plain awesome. Watching people give their all is something that really should be experienced first hand.
Dispatch note number 2: When you leave the comfort of your car for a Hurricane Heat you should treat it like you are combat jumping from a plane.
If you need it you better have it, if you have it you better need it. We were told we would have a place to leave our bags, and we did, well into the HH. But because of the distance between the start and the bag check there are currently a few cell phone customers who are replacing water logged cell phones. Oh well it is the Hurricane Heat.
This is Spartan Race. This is the Hurricane Heat. This is madness. As we gleefully follow Joe D and Tommy Mac into the darkness it occurs to me that none of this makes any sense. Its dark, its the desert, there are things out there that do go bump in the night. I’m not a strong runner and I question the level of my fitness every time I leave the house. With all this on my mind, into the darkness I ran following a man who has been quoted as saying “Marathons are cute”. Why am I doing this? I don’t know. But because I don’t know the why, I might as well try.
So we ran. A short distance into the run we received our 5 team sandbags and team flag. I was handed the Reservoir Dogs flag, after a few Tire Guys Death Race Camps this may be the lightest thing I have ever had to carry. A flag is a rally point, it gives people a place to belong, a place to center on, it gives purpose. I felt honored. Team Street Team under Captain Micha came together quickly, and this was awesome to behold. Strangers only moments before were now comrades. Teamwork was instantly second nature. accountability was paramount, numbers checks were held often. Sandbags were rotated out regularly. I don’t think anyone was ever over burdened by them. Obstacles were approached, crushed and left for dead. The energy was palpable, no one ever lacked for support or encouragement. Feed us more Joe! We love it.
If you have done a Spartan Race you know the obstacles. There are things to go under, over, and through. Cargo nets to assail, ropes to climb, ropes to pull. Heavy things to lift or to carry or to drag. What I wasn’t prepared for was what made this Spartan event epic. It was the apocalyptic amount of water obstacles. This is the desert for crying out loud! We swam rivers, jumped in holes filled with water, swam under bridges and trudged like Army Rangers though a water and debris filled drainage ditch. We forded the river, swam across it, and swam down it with the current. Later we walked up the river against the current. In the drainage ditch Spartan Race managed to get the obstacle so low over the ditch you had to put your head under this awful water to navigate it. Through all of this I couldn’t have been happier!
Dispatch note number 3: Commitment is something you can read about, but to see it, to be part of it: Is to be a part of greatness.
The Hurricane Heat is what its all about for me. It is the culmination of doing what I do naturally in a Spartan Race. This was my first HH and it will certainly not be my last. A team is strong because of its commitment to a common goal. I don’t know what our common goal was beyond having fun. If that was the goal, our level of commitment far exceeded that of what we needed to achieve that goal.