Seattle HH12HR-030; Ab wheels, sandbags and buckets
By Annie Loch
I was on the fence about signing up for a HH12HR. My first Hurricane Heat last December was completely and utterly different from the Spartan Races. Prior to the HH, I had completed 5 Trifectas, and yet I was blown away by how sore I was after five hours and scared shitless about how I would feel after 12.
Kyoul Cha was slated to be our lead Krypteia (think sadistic drill sergeant). I researched him and discovered that he loves to make people do awkward and uncomfortable things. Knowing this, I trained myself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Kyoul tested three things: physical stamina, problem solving, and resolve. The scoring system for time hacks was similar to cross-country (first place got 1 point, second place got 2 points, etc.) and the top person’s score would be averaged out. Anyone within 150% of that score was considered safe, and anyone outside of that was cut. I knew that as much as he hated cutting people, he also wouldn’t have a problem with a 0% passing rate if he felt we didn’t make the cut. There were escalations and de-escalations on tasks dependent on group performance and our ability to listen to orders.
We warmed by line dancing to a country song that Kyoul heard from the Chipmunks movie. He wanted to pull people out of their comfort zone. In previous years, I had spent many hours in a dance studio, so I enjoyed this part. Unfortunately, the group didn’t dance as one and it was a hot mess.
We were instructed to bring a list of equipment — mandatory, not just suggestions. Along with the usual — ruck, extra weight, water, food, glow sticks, etc. — we were also told to bring a 5-gallon bucket, 4 sandbags, and an ab roller. Some people were missing equipment, so this, along with the poor dancing, led to an escalated first time hack.
The first three time hacks consisted of very heavy carries through treacherous swamp-like mud — one wrong step and you’re knee-deep in sludge. The first involved a sandbag/bucket carry with rucks that required some creativity to not kill my forearms. The second involved a double sandbag carry, which threw me off balance so frequently that the mud and I became close friends. The third hack incorporated a bucket carry without rucks (de-escalation!) followed by ab roller inchworms on gravel. I had no grace while walking/falling as seen in the pictures captured. In Spartan Races, I’ve always stopped to pose for photos, but in the HH12HR, I couldn’t allow my focus to be shaken.
At all times I kept track of the people in front of me. I quickly learned the advantage to finishing a task early (besides more resting time). The first three guys got a 5-minute head start, which meant they were likely to place in the first three again. I did math in my head and realized I needed to move quicker.
The fourth hack involved an ab roller bear crawl 1.7 miles up and down a steep muddy trail. Say what?! Honestly, I didn’t notice the distance. I just knew that there was a head lamp in front of me that I was trying to catch, and two head lamps behind me that I was trying to stay in front of… a strange sensation of hunting and being hunted.
After the time hacks, we had group activities. Imagine the worst bucket carry and multiply it by 10. Two groups of four held buckets filled with varying amounts of water, while balancing a full bucket on top of the four. At the same time we had to pirouette (rotate) and move 100 meters down a gravel road and back. After every revolution, someone had to be switched out. The goal was to finish without spilling any water. The next activity required walking with our right wrists being duct taped to our left ankles. Remember the comment about awkward and uncomfortable? Nailed it.
At this point, the scores were tallied and Kyoul announced who was safe and who wasn’t. The top person scored 2 (congrats Deon!). Technically, only people with a score under 3 were safe. If this was the way I was going to be cut, I was okay with that. My average was 5.5, I gave it my best shot, and I didn’t quit. Turns out, Kyoul has a clause in case someone crushes the time hacks. Hooray! He went down to the fifth person and did 150% off his score. We had twelve people left; ten people were safe. The last two were pitted against each other in a final gauntlet time hack. It was heart wrenching seeing a fellow comrade get cut at the 11th hour.
Have you ever played Duck Duck Goose? How about one where you have to assume duck position while “sitting” in the circle, and duck walk around the circle once tagged? We must’ve played this sadistic version for at least half an hour. I’m not sure at that point which was harder — squatting or duck walking. After an eternity of Kyoul laughing in the background and telling us to squat lower, he gathered us around and said these magical words “Congratulations Class 030, you have officially completed the 12 Hour Hurricane Heat.” Feelings of relief, quickly followed by a great sense of accomplishment and camaraderie with my fellow finishers flooded over me. We finished!
Need advice on how to complete a HH12HR? Be prepared. Research your Krypteia, the venue and the weather. Ask other people about their HH12HR experiences. Train with heavy rucks on hills. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Get in the right mindset, remember the Warrior Ethos and put them to heart. Bring all your gear, plus extras (my kneepads saved me on the inchworms). Give it your best shot. Your body can achieve amazing things if you let push yourself. Have fun.