At my first race, I was given a Hurricane Heat dog tag, but the significance of it was not explained to me. I used a free volunteer race to sign up for the Nebraska Sprint, and signed for the HH up to see what it was about.
Show up at OMG early, meet the team, and find that the HH is to be lead by Tony and Andi, two very wonderful people, but both capable of challeling the devil incarnate at will. This became evident with the first command being “Do burpees until I tell you to stop.”
You can do a lot of burpees in a stretch of 10-20 minutes. We then moved to the Atlas Lift obstacle, gathered the weights and passed them around the team. We also had the Warrior Ethos drummed into us if we didn’t already know it:
“I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.”
The group was divided into smaller teams, for which we had to come up with team names. OK, we’re in Nebraska, we need something humorously inappropriate involving corn…
A call from the sidelines: “CORN HOLERS!!!!!”
We have our team name.
We then had to buddy carry one member of the team for the first mile of the course, which involved some serious hills. We could switch off who was carrying, but the carried teammate could not touch the ground.
When we reached the end of that, we were assigned 25 burpees, which became 50 when someone complained. Suffer in silence.
We then had to bear-crawl the next section of the course. I have no idea how far we crawled, and in truth this is where memories of the event become a bit fuzzy.
I just remember doing what we would normally consider absolutely crazy, and doing it without a second thought. Low crawling through culverts. Covering ground by alternating burpees and frog hops. Crossing the traverse wall without using your feet.
Oh, and then there were the tires.
We were originally going to carry them around the course, but it was soon determined that this could not be done, they were too heavy and full of water. So we flipped them as a team, over the sort of hills built for ATV riders to jump over.
We rolled it down what we thought was the last section, and then went down and did box jumps onto and off of the tires.
We were then told to race getting the tires back where they came from, last one there does 100 burpees. Engage warp drive.
We took the gamble of trying to throw it from the last hill and let gravity help us. We lost that gamble when it went the wrong way and just wouldn’t stop rolling.
We reached the barbed wire crawl and each team was given a spear. That we had to get to the far end without getting it muddy.
My team had the cleanest spear at the end and was not penalized, the other two were given a number of monkey-f***ers to do.
We were all cold, muscles locking up, nowhere near our usual strength, when we came to the rope climb. As a team, the bell at the top needs to be rung 6 times. The ropes are also above a pool of water, not helping with the cold. First team member went up, nailed it, came down, and it was my turn. I did my best, got to, no exaggeration, an INCH short of ringing the bell, and couldn’t get any further. My team was calling out encouragement from below, so I kept trying. As I raised a hand to try to reach the bell, my feet slipped and I fell. I found out later that one of my teammates broke my fall, and I went under the water still able to sort out where up was and to stand back up. My team walked me to the edge of the water and I waved off the course medic who was coming up to check on me.
There were a few more challenges and a LOT more burpees, but we finished, got our T shirts and dog tags, and went off to change before running the race itself.
Between the cold, the fall, and the dunking, I didn’t have my usual tear-it-up spirit starting the race, but I formed up at the starting line and gave what I had left, offering a word of encouragement where I could.
The race itself seemed uneventful after the hurricane heat, but still a good time. I walked more of it than I ran, thinking I may have inhaled while I was under water, but kept moving. As I got further into it and got warmer, things got easier. My arms were still jelly from the morning, so I will admit that I didn’t do the full number of burpees for obstacles failed.
The barbed wire crawl featured a man with a fire hose making all of us hate him, many deep pools of water and much general discomfort. I think the photo from the dunk zone pretty much sums up how I was feeling at this point:
Making it over the slick wall, I slipped and didn’t quite have the strength to pull myself over. I was able to call the racer in front of me back to help me over, then over the fire and through the gladiators.
Got my medal and banana, picked up my gear, and reported in full muddy glory to the volunteer tent, late for my shift. The volunteer coordinator said, “You can shower, but I need you desperately, so be back quickly.”
I replied “Give me a dry shirt and tell me where you need me.”
While I was changing and stowing my gear, she asked if I would hate her if she asked me to be a gladiator. I stammered, “I would love you forever…”
The HH was a great experience, almost a mini GORUCK, I will be doing more of them. The race itself was a good time, as tough as they could make it with the terrain.
I also learned that you want to change your socks between the race and your volunteer time. Mud-soaked socks dry out into little sock-shaped adobe bricks that bond to your skin, and you will have to wear them into the bath in order to remove them. Good to know for next time.