Better to try and fail, than not try at all.
By Angie Kemp
On March 18th, 2017 I embarked on one of the hardest events I had ever encountered — the Spartan HH12HR. The Krypteia for the event was Kyoul Cha, assisted by Amanda and Rusty Keel. From the moment the pre-event video was out, I knew that this event would test and change my perspective on life. Only a select few people knew what I would be attempting this weekend, and the most important of these were the 900+ kids who I see during their PE time. This event was not just for me, but also to show them that I practice what I preach, and that if they want to do something, they are their only limitation.
While being debriefed we found out that the evening was to be individual, and that no team events would be occurring, we also were told that the parameters were loose and that a zero class finish was acceptable. For me, my only knowledge of Hurricane Heats was what I saw through social media and those showed pictures of people working together as a team. My 16-year-old son looked at me like I’d just fed him to the wolves! During the debriefing, someone showed up late, and unfortunately our evening started with a wonderful escalation. Remember, if you show up “on time” for an event, you are late.
The first event began with an escalation: carrying our ruck while also going to the water to fill our buckets. Moving with purpose is an important phrase in these events, as you may think you are strong, but a five-gallon bucket of water is terrible on your hands and will slow you down. This portion tested fitness and problem solving skills because somehow you had to get that bucket back to base camp without the water sloshing out: my strategy was to overfill my bucket to allow for water spillage. The bucket was heavy, especially carrying it by the handle, but I found sacrificing my hands was worth more than making it easy by hugging the bucket.
Mission two: IM relay (or, I hate my life relay), in which we would take four laps, adding a piece of equipment each time. After my first lap, I was waived to side. I had to play mom and talk to Kyoul and the others about my son being medically pulled, and having consent to release him to a friend — all while people were passing me. I saw the event slipping, but when my son was taken care of I pushed forward.
How do you push two pavers and a bucket of water under barbed wire? More challenging? Carrying them straight up a steep incline. This was the suckiest of suck I had ever had happened to me. Through cries of utter determination, I heard over again that people were losing their hydration bladders, and the end piece to the water supply. At one point I may have said a prayer; I know I said a few choice words. I had been kicked in the face, caught on the barbed wire, and cried out in anguish as I forced myself up the hill, and scooted my backside under ropes that would come back and whip me in the face. At one point I saw Kyoul and told him that this was worse than childbirth!
Mission three: cool down while walking the sprint course carrying your ruck and pavers. Pavers are heavy and jagged, and will cut into your arms. I was own my own, in the dark, suffering in silence while the stupid pavers created caverns in my forearms. I dislike being negative, so at one point you just accept the fact that you have to move quicker, embrace the suck. With a new friend in tow, we pushed through, passed people, cheered each other on, and eventually made it back to base camp where we were told it was a “soft cut,” but if you can make it to the sandbag carry before “X” amount of time you would be fine. What the heck is a “soft cut?” I think Amanda was playing head games with us, but we both chose to push forward.
Mission four: head back to the sandbag carry with the ruck and bucket of water. I try not to be a whining baby, but after a mile plus hike back to sandbag carry with my ruck and bucket of water I may have been surmised to “whining status.” Sandbags are already heavy, and with the addition of a ruck, bucket of water — and three loops — it made for an interesting time. During my second lap I went the wrong path. I saw lights in the distance and I just cried. Frustrated, I hung my head in shame as I corrected my mistake in hopes that no one saw me.
Mission five: Sisyphus Hill. We had to bear crawl up the hill while pushing our equipment one item at a time. I literally just wanted to die. I pushed maybe five feet and was done. Maybe it was because it was four in the morning? Maybe it was because I was weak. Whatever it was I just didn’t care about finishing. I was broken. While I was giving my “poor me” speech to Kyoul, I heard a voice yell, “get back in here! You’ve gone too far to quit now!” I looked over and saw this tiny woman with two braids, and thought, “knock it off Kemp, you can do this!” I backed out of my quitting and got back in.
Pushing stuff up a rocky and sandy hill is not easy. This type of craziness does not discriminate between the fittest and the least fit; it is a mindset. You either will figure out a way to make it happen, or you will give up and evaluate what you could have done differently. I thought things sucked before, this topped everything that may have been horrible in life.
Elimination round occurred at around six in the morning, twelve hours after the event began. Looking around base camp you could see how haggard and worn everyone was. Emotions were overwhelming. You could feel the tension as we were told what would happen. Duct tape your ankles and bear crawl around the small track. First half of each heat moves forward, second group would have one final elimination. We were at hour 12, and now we were being told we may not finish? What the heck? My body was throbbing, and I was exhausted. I was the 5th to cross in my heat, forcing me to do the next round. Ugh! Is any of this worth it? Can I just go home and be proud of how far I had gone? No, the sick minded part of me had to at least try. Instructions were to crab crawl, first group moves forward, last half done. Gone. Nothing to show for but bruises and tears. There comes a point where the muscles just don’t want to work; this was it. I crawled. I finally looked up and I had only made the second turn when the guys were at the third. I have no idea what happened after this. Something in my brain clicked and I had to catch up. I just dug in and my crawl turned to a hop. I could hear Kyoul yelling at the guys to not stop because bad things could happen. I freaking caught up. I think my hands and the last guys’ backside hit the line at the same time. I don’t know. I honestly thought that I had given everything and was done. I lay there and cried. Seriously bawled like a baby. I finally picked up my pieces and went to my gear. But whatever I had done was enough, Rusty came over and gave me a number; he told me that I was going through.
One more mission before completion and that was to figure out your color code. You could just feel everyone who finished relax. The sun came up another day, and 34 of us received our patches, dog tags and shirts. I have only ever felt that sensation of emotion three other times in my life, and that was at the birth of each of my children. Can you do a hurricane heat, a twelve-hour, or an Agoge? Honestly, you will never know if you don’t try and trying and failing is better than never trying at all.
HH12HR Class 028 finisher