The Women of the HH12HR
By Tony Matesi
(originally appeared on spartan.com)
Throughout time women have continually pushed the envelope, exemplifying the definition of strength, courage, ambition, perseverance, determination, and grit. Women of the Cleopatra, Amelia Earhart, and Joan of Arc type. Women have conquered enormous feats and that tradition continues here in the year 2014. No matter the sport, women have made an impression. The same goes for obstacle and endurance racing, and it holds true for the Hurricane Heat Twelve Hour. There have been a select few women who have been brave enough to face twelve hours of relentless physically and mentally demanding tasks.
While the Hurricane Heat Twelve Hour is still a new and mysterious event, there are a growing number of Spartans taking their chances against the unknown. On average only 50% of HH12HR hopefuls have finished all the tasks and challenges orchestrated by the Race Directors, with challenges designed with the intent of a 40% finish rate. Of the difficulty, Kristen Brosamer of HH12HR-001 compares it to childbirth, “HH12HR was one of the defining events of my year. It was almost as hard as childbirth. What lifts the physical challenge above others though are the competitors Spartan attracts. The characters drawn to these events have extraordinary stories; they are the best reason to dive into a Hurricane Heat. You will meet people you won’t forget. One of them might be you.”
There are a great many reasons someone would want to subject themselves to an HH12HR. From trying something with more difficulty than a Spartan Sprint, Super or Beast, to pushing your limits and finding out how far you before you break. Amber Lukes explains, “I needed an added challenge. I have been doing the Spartan Races for the last three years and I wanted more; something different.” For Evelyn Minassian it was about taking on a new challenge and doing what others thought she couldn’t. “Once I read up on the partial description, it intrigued me. I decided to challenge myself as I HAD NEVER RACED BEFORE! I was told by many not to participate, that I was too old (47), that I hadn’t properly trained and that I would end up with many injuries. This all fueled the fire, yes I’m that person and if you say ‘no you can’t,’ my response will always be, ‘now I will.’ I’ve always had this outlook but more so after beating cancer. I was diagnosed in 1999 with a rare cancer, so rare I was at that point #96 in the world ever diagnosed and one of the few to survive…so yes I will accept challenges” Evelyn tells us.
While this is the first season the HH12HR has been available to test your limits, it has already seen a breadth of incredible women willing to step into the unknown and give it their all. It’s these women who have set the precedent. They are held to the same standard as all the men. Often times in the HH12HR the women are not given the choice of a lighter weight object, they are given equal weights to those of their male counterparts. Impressively enough, these difficult alterations to the obstacles fail to stop them. Women continually overcome what life throws in their path.
Preparing for Battle
DeAnn Ewing of Class HH12HR-001 tells us, “Sex doesn’t matter, if you’re strong you’re strong. Don’t be scared, be prepared. Train hard and come to the event with the right mind set and the right gear. Be smart about it and it will save your ass. Overly prepared trumps underprepared any day.”
Being prepared is half the battle. If you don’t have the right nutrition, gear, and mindset going into the HH12HR, you will not earn your patch. Bonnie Mobley also from HH12HR-001 prepared by, “Relying on observation of elite athletes training and information from running books, nutrition, survival training manuals and the few OCR books out there, I created a unique training plan to target all aspects of health — body, mind, and spirit.” Her training maximized the use of her time. “Before sunrise, I knock out interval and strength training at my local gym. While the kids are at school, I’ll run, swim, or spin for cardio health and endurance. Training is a lifestyle not just a gym session.”
Speaking of gym sessions, training in a traditional gym environment may not be the most effective way to prepare for a HH12HR, Kristine Iotte of HH12HR-001 offers reflection, “If I were to compete again I would be more creative with the equipment and style of my workouts. You don’t know what is going to be thrown at you in a HH12HR, but inevitably it will involve carrying things either with your hands or in a pack for long distances. I would incorporate more sandbag or ruck training than traditional lifting at the gym. Gym training just will not prepare you for something like carrying a tire 9 miles through a Super course.”
The Bigger Picture
Bonnie lives the lifestyle and believes by doing so she provides her kids with valuable lessons in how to be fit, happy and healthy. “My training and life for that matter, could be improved with more long hikes. I maximize my family time by running close to home on the soft sand of the beach and including my family in as much training as I can.” Many lessons can be learned by the individual person participating in an HH12HR but these lessons can extend to those who have watched a person emerge from twelve hours of facing the elements and braving the seemingly impossible. Mothers demonstrate to their offspring what it’s like to face adversity and overcome. Angelica Orosco of HH12HR-005 leads her teenagers by setting the bar high, “I want to teach them to be strong mentally and physically and the only way to do that is to lead by example. As a teen mom I also want to be an example to young girls I want them to know that no matter what life throws at you or no matter what you have been through you can overcome it and be a better version of you.”
Experiencing long endurance events renders a variety of impactful results. Lessons are learned. Outlooks evolve. Like the phoenix rising from its very own ashes, participants emerge from their new life experience a new version of themselves. Casey Eischen says, “Attitude is everything,” and Bonnie backs that notion up: “I learned to trust myself to figure things out, to listen, observe, and compete wisely. Much of the HH12HR is about following directions strategically and just like life, it’s more about your reaction to what happens to you than what actually happens to you.
“The ancient Spartans trained with the equivalent of a brutal eight day Hurricane Heat. The goal was to wear each warrior down until they had no strength, the joking stopped and things got real. There are few events in modern life where things get so real we cross that line from fun and games into a different physical and mental place that calls upon perseverance and will. Powering through an experience when it’s painful is where truth emerges. Are you going to cry, get angry, puke, quit, die? The answer lies past the limits of comfort. I learned I can tolerate being miserably uncomfortable and that no, if I can help it, I will not succumb and die.”
Finish or Flounder
For the hopeful’s efforts? A limited edition patch and finisher shirt identifying their accomplishment. It takes a tremendous person forged with grit, integrity, athleticism, and a resilient mind to earn a finish. Regardless of whether a person finishes or walks away with a DNF (did not finish), the journey one experiences lends many a lesson. Have an open mind to the reality you may not finish. Learn from your actions and reactions. It’s about the journey more so than the materials earned at the end of it. “The HH12HR is not just an event. It’s an experience filled with opportunity.” says Bonnie. “My defining moment in Temecula was seven hours in when I got lost, stuck, and cranky. With visions of seeking comfort in the air conditioned tent, I considered just walking away. At some point, Anthony had offered us a full refund to quit, a clever way to assess the racer’s motivation. There is no price I can place on the opportunity in that moment of choice — be a quitter or be my own hero. I’m proud I rose to the occasion for in the time it took to tighten my pack and decide to carry on, I became a stronger, wiser, more confident person.”
In order to finish Bonnie explains what is required to earn a patch and come out victorious, “Training for an HH12HR must include a balance of strength, endurance, nutrition, and recovery. If peak physical conditioning is paired with fierce mental grit, you have an unstoppable Hurricane Heater. My mantra for training is ‘be comfortable being uncomfortable’ and that can be achieved in many ways.” Finishing the HH12HR is possible, Kristen offers her advice, “My advice to you is simply: surrender to it. Don’t fight the experience. Let go of your expectations and discover how to give yourself to your team. Then bring that acceptance and cohesion back into your life when the Heat is over!”
Bonnie encourages ladies who might be interested in the HH12HR, “Take that risk and jump in! The water may not be nice, in fact it will likely be bitter cold but you’ll emerge feeling accomplished and that’s way more exhilarating than ‘nice.’ You don’t have to be a superhero to become a finisher, you just have to believe in yourself. Angelica tells us, “I am no different than any other women and mothers and here I am going on crazy adventures and doing things I never thought a woman could do. Anything is possible!” So ladies, show us what you are made of. Rise to the challenge and emerge a new person.